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Paddy Barnes powers his way to brink of World medal

By David Kelly

Paddy Barnes joined fellow Belfast men Tommy McCarthy and Michael Conlan in the quarter-finals of the World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately another Belfast man, Sean McComb of the Holy Trinity club, could not join them in today's quest for a medal, the lightweight losing a split decision.

McComb was edged out by Azerbaijan puncher Elvin Isayev. One judge gave the Irish champion the fight 29-28, but the other two scored it 29-28 and 30-27 for Isayev who will now meet Italy's Domenico Valentino in the last eight.

Barnes, who has moved up from light-fly to flyweight, was in stunning form yesterday as he advanced to the last eight with a first round stoppage of Kenyan Simon Nzioki.

Barnes bustled forward and clipped Nzioki with a sweeping left hook, the referee stopping the contest after just 86 seconds.

Barnes will today be bidding to become the first Northern Ireland boxer to have won a full selection of major medals. Having already won European gold and silver, Commonwealth Games gold and two Olympic bronze medals, a World medal would complete his set.

"To become the first to win a medal at every major tournament would be amazing," said Barnes.

In order to make history, Barnes will have to defeat tough Uzbekistan flyweight Jasurbek Latipov.

Victory for Barnes would also see him join John Joe Nevin as the only male Irish boxer to have won medals at the Olympics, Worlds and Europeans.

Light-heavyweight Joe Ward and middleweight Jason Quigley are the other two Irishmen bidding for a medal in the quarter-finals today.

Ward, from the Moate BC in Westmeath, comfortably beat Hungary's Norbert Harsca. The final scores read 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 after he had rocked his opponent with two big lefts in the first and second rounds of the 81kg clash.

He will now meet Russia's Nikita Ivanov in a repeat of the 2011 European Elite final which the Irish southpaw won in Turkey.

If Ward repeats that victory, he will make Elite boxing history as he'll become the first boxer to win three AIBA World medals in three different age categories and weight classes.

In 2009 and 2012 he claimed AIBA World Junior and Youth light-middleweight and middleweight gold in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Irish head coach Billy Walsh, who set the squad a target of two medals in Kazakhstan, said: "The World Championships are much more difficult than the Olympic Games. It's much bigger for a start and everyone is here."

* OLYMPIC silver medalist John Joe Nevin has announced that he has joined the professional ranks.

Nevin has signed a deal with a business sports partnership that involves GreenBlood Boxing from Philadelphia and Berkley Sports & Media from London.

Nevin explained: "It's time to move on and hopefully bring back a world title to Ireland."

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