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Boxing: Joyce and Barnes close in on Olympic berths

DAVID OLIVER JOYCE and Paddy Barnes are just one win away from qualifying for the Olympics following last-16 wins at the European qualifiers in Trabzon, Turkey yesterday.

Lightweight Joyce hammered Germany's Arthur Bril 24-14, and light-flyweight Barnes, a bronze-medal winner at the Beijing Games, stopped Istvan Ungvari in round two.

Ungarvi was 4-2 up at the end of the first, but the Belfast man blitzed the Hungarian into a standing count in his own corner in the second and the Croatian ref stopped the contest.

Reaching the semi-finals will be enough to qualify both boxers for London.

Barnes, who boxes out of the Holy Family club in Belfast, will meet Romania's Stefan Caslarov today; Joyce is in against Lithuanian 2010 Olympic Youth champion Evaldas Petrauskas.

St Michael's Athy BC man Joyce was only called up to the Irish squad after Michael McDonagh withdrew and now he's just three three-minute rounds away from the Olympics.

"I'm happy with my performance," said Joyce. "He'll (Petrauskas) will be a tough lad. I sparred with him in training. He's a physical lad. I'll have to get my tactics right."

Adam Nolan, who needs to reach the welterweight final to qualify for London, and Tommy McCarthy, who has to win gold, will also be in action today.

Meanwhile, the controversy over Joe Ward's loss to Turkish light-heavyweight Bahran Muzaffer on Monday night continued yesterday.

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association lodged a protest at the decision, but it was turned down and they were told that the result stands.

There has been speculation that Ward might get a wild card invitation to the Olympics through the Tripartite Commission. But Tripartite Commission invitations are usually only extended to developing boxing nations.

And Ireland would by no stretch of the imagination be considered a developing boxing nation.

The World Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) confirmed that there is one invitation place available for Europe in Ward's light-heavyweight class.

But the deadline for applications was January 16 and AIBA will not reveal who applied for these spots before the end of all qualifying events.

Irish Independent