Boxing: 'Rocky' Barnes claims place in Olympics
Published 01/11/2007 | 11:11
Paddy Barnes woke up in Chicago today aiming to continue his own 'Rocky' story at the World Championships in Chicago.
The light-flyweight became the first Irish boxer to qualify for the 2008 Olympics last night with his third outstanding performance, defeating Japan's Kenji Ohkubo 24-6.
Originally from Ardglass, but living in Belfast, Barnes bids for a medal in the early hours of tomorrow morning and standing in his way in the quarter-finals is defending World champion Shiming Zou of China.
Ireland's High Performance director Gary Keegan said: "Paddy had the fight won after two rounds and he was able to control the fight from there on.
"He has been absolutely fantastic but now he meets the World champion who's a very quick boxer but that won't bother Paddy.
"We have found it hard to get Paddy bouts this year because there are not too many light-flyweights around, and we had to think hard about picking him for the squad.
"But the fact that he hasn't experienced the limelight before is working for him. He thinks it's all normal and I don't really want him to discover that it's such a big deal!"
There was disappointment for the Irish when Eric Donovan and Ken Egan followed Darren Sutherland and John Sweeney out of the championships.
Lightweight Donovan, from the St Michael's Club in Athy, was beaten by Italian Domenico Valentino 29-12.
Seven-times Irish champion Egan lost 17-9 to Croatian Marijo Sivolija in their light-heavyweight clash.
Meanwhile, Britain have their strongest Olympic boxing squad for 16 years when Frankie Gavin became the third English fighter to seal his place in Beijing.
The Birmingham lightweight overcame fellow southpaw Ramal Amanov of Azerbaijan 21-10 to reach the quarter-finals and with it the required qualification mark.
Gavin will join Joe Murray and Bradley Saunders in the first British Olympic team to feature three or more boxers since 1992.
With Tony Jeffries and David Price still to fight - plus two more qualifying tournaments early next year - the Great Britain squad will hope to double in size.