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Paddy Barnes cheers as pal Michael Conlan is crowned world champion

By Lesley Houston

Published 15/10/2015

Michael Conlan’s moment of triumph last night
Michael Conlan’s moment of triumph last night

Paddy Barnes led the tributes to Michael Conlan after his fellow Belfast boxer was crowned Ireland's first men's amateur world champion.

Despite going down to a right hook late in the third round, Conlan fought back to add the world title to the Olympic bronze medal he won in London in 2012.

The 23-year-old wrenched victory from Uzbekistan's Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the World Amateur Boxing Championships bantamweight final in Doha, Qatar.

The historic victory means Conlan - who has already won European Elite and Commonwealth titles - joins Wicklow boxer Katie Taylor as the only Irish fighters to win AIBA world titles.

Taylor declared the victor as "amazing. Champion of the world! He can't be beaten!" she said, describing Conlan as a history-maker. Barnes teased pal Conlan after providing a running commentary to the fight last night on Twitter.

"I'm dressing up as Mick Conlan for Halloween," he said after the victory.

He also heaped praise on Michael's father and coach John, calling him the "main man".

"Helped me and Mick qualify for Rio and now is the man behind Mick's World success!"

Barnes also quipped: "I'm gonna batter you when you get home, I don't care who you think you are."

Conlan was relieved to avoid humiliation at the end after hitting the deck a minute before the end of the fight.

"I am a bit embarrassed at getting knocked down in the last round," he told the BBC.

"It is the first time I have been on the canvas in my life. He hit me right on the button."

In her praise for the boxer on his crowning achievement, Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilan described Conlan as one of the greatest names in local sport.

"Yet again, Michael Conlan has secured a gold medal, this time at world level," she said. "This is the latest in a succession of titles for Michael since the Commonwealth Games last year and it sets him up fantastically for the Olympics in Rio next year.

"Michael is truly one of our greatest current sports people and at the very top of his game.

"He is a credit to his club, his family and to the whole community." But Barnes also issued a right hook against the Sports Minister afterwards.

"And to think our funding was cut without even telling us..." he added, referring to recent budget cuts within her department.

Golden boy, page 52

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