A WIN away to Venezuela in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) on April 18 will qualify Paddy Barnes for his third successive Olympics.
Barnes went back on top of the WSB Individual light-fly rankings on 30 points after claiming his sixth straight win for Italia Thunder this season with a unanimous points decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) over Leandro Zarate Junior of Argentina in Milan on Saturday night.
The verdict moved Barnes two points clear of his nearest rival, Uzbek Hasanboy Dusmatov, at the top of the WSB light-fly table, with the No 1 ranked to qualify for Rio.
Dusmatov, who boxes for the Ukraine Otamans, will be in action in his last fight on April 17 at home to Russia.
Venezuela have yet to name an opponent for Barnes.
Michael Conlan also won for Italia Thunder on Saturday night. He hammered out a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)over Ignacio Perrin to move into second spot in the bantam rankings. The two top-ranked bantams will qualify for Rio.
Conlan is on 21 points, four behind leader Magomed Gurbanov (Azerbaijan). Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, who is on 19 points, has two bouts left.
Billy Walsh and John Conlan, Michael’s father, were working the Irish corners in Milan.
Walsh said: “I thought that Paddy boxed well within himself. He never really had to put his foot on the gas, but he won on a unanimous decision. It was a comfortable win.
“Michael gave an exhibition of boxing off the front and back foot, an excellent performance all round.
“At the start of this World Series of Boxing season we set out with these goals, to be going into the last fights in with a shout.
“That is where we are at right now, but the next fights will be our toughest tests yet.”
Meanwhile, Ireland’s youth and junior side beat England 5-4 in a women’s international at the Clann Nafoa BC in Dundalk.