Nevin and Barnes spearhead Irish assault on podium placings
FIVE Irish boxers will be in quarter-final action at the 37-nation European Championships in Belarus today with five bronze medals, at least, up for grabs in Minsk.
London 2012 medallists John Joe Nevin and Paddy Barnes – along with Jason Quigley and Tommy McCarthy – have joined Michael Conlon in the last eight, and all five will be between the ropes today.
Nevin, the No 1 seed, landslided Turkish bantamweight Selcuk Exer last night. All three judges scored it 30-27 to the Mullingar man, but Adam Nolan lost out on all cards to the Ukraine's Boghdan Shelestyuk.
Nevin meets Hungary's Krisztian Nagy today knowing that a win will see him become the first Irish boxer apart from Katie Taylor to medal at all the majors – the Olympics, World, European and EU Championships – and secure the No 1 spot in the AIBA bantamweight rankings.
Earlier yesterday, two-time Olympic bronze medallist Barnes (pictured right) powered past Wales' Ashley 'Ash-Bash' Williams on a unanimous (30-27 30-27 29-28) decision. A gold medal winner at the 2010 Europeans in Moscow, Barnes now faces Hungary's Istvan Ungvari – an opponent he beat in the Olympic qualifiers in Turkey in 2012.
Quigley claimed his 23rd straight win at the expense of Austria's Arbi Chakaev, the Donegal middleweight earning a unanimous 30-27 29-28 29-28 decision. Germany's Stefan Haertel, who beat Darren O'Neill at the London Olympics, awaits.
Quigley is aiming for a unique hat-trick in Minsk as he won gold at the 2009 European Youth and 2012 U-23 Championships. Meanwhile, Belfast heavyweight McCarthy beat Finland's Tomi Honka 30-27 across the board yesterday.
He'll now go three rounds with defending European champion, Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who won bronze at the 2012 Olympics and and silver at the 2011 World Championships.
"Paddy's performance was very good. He had a long week without getting any trial at all," said Irish team manager Joe Hennigan, who also praised McCarthy, Nevin and Quigley.
"There's medals to be won now."
Joe Ward, who dislocated his left kneecap in Monday's last-16 fight with Poland's Mateusz Tryc, returned home last night. He is expected to be out for at least a month with the injury.