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Mixed fortunes but still a proud night for the boxers

By Steven Beacom

New kid on the block Joe Fitzpatrick plans to silence the Scottish fans today when he fights for a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Teenage sensation Fitzpatrick joined established stars Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan in Glasgow finals with an accomplished performance to overcome world number 15 Michael Alexander from Trinidad & Tobago in the lightweight division.

And now the 19-year from the Immaculata club in Belfast will take on huge home favourite Charlie Flynn in what promises to be a mouthwatering decider.

Fiery Scot Flynn was roared on inside the hall in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre last night as he defeated Welshman Joseph Cordina on a split decision.

With the finals taking place inside the SSE Hydro Arena, which accommodates 13,000, the atmosphere will be electric, with the support for Flynn threatening to take the roof off.

Fitzpatrick is determined that won't be the case.

"My plan is to silence the arena," said the Northern Ireland man.

"I really can't wait for the final. The atmosphere will be incredible. Hopefully there will be a few Irish people in the crowd as well as all the Scots.

"I was happy to win my semi-final and thought it was a good performance, but you still haven't seen the best from me. You'll see that in the final."

Fitzpatrick paid tribute to the influence of Olympic bronze medallists Barnes and Conlan on the team, which will bring home an unprecedented NINE medals from the ring.

Five of those will be bronze after Sean Duffy, Sean McGlinchy, Steven Donnelly, Connor Coyle and Alanna Audley-Murphy lost their semi-finals yesterday.

Fitzpatrick, along with Barnes, Conlan and Michaela Walsh will be going for gold this afternoon.

Barnes was once again a comfortable winner, this time by a unanimous points decision as opposed to the knockouts from his opening two fights.

After beating Fazil Juma Kaggwa from Uganda with ease, the north-Belfast man insisted he had been saving himself for the final against Indian Devendro Laishram.

Barnes said: "He's very good. Very fit and strong. I beat him at the Olympics – it was a close fight and I'm expecting another close fight."

Barnes, who should become the first Northern Ireland boxer in history to win two Commonwealth Games gold medals, stated that on the back of his pal Conlan getting cut for the second time in the competition, headguards should return for the next big amateur boxing event.

"I think they should be back because while it's great to see headguards off and it's better to watch, it's impossible to box so many times in a few days with no headguard. It's ridiculous," he said.

"It's not official for the Olympic Games yet and I can't see the Olympic Association letting the headguards off."

While Barnes will fight again – minus the headguard – here in Glasgow, Ballymena welterweight Donnelly's Games are over.

Coming back from his Delhi nightmare four years ago when he lost in the first round and was then sent home after poor behaviour, he has done himself proud with some eye catching performances and was a little unlucky to lose a split decision to India Mandeep Jangra in his semi-final.

"I thought I could have got it," said Donnelly.

"A split decision was correct. I'm not going to complain, the decision's made and you just get on with it."

On his future, Donnelly said: "I don't know whether to go pro or stay amateur.

"If I stay amateur, I'm still Irish number one so it's Europeans and Olympics in the future."

There was disappointment for light-welterweight Sean Duffy and light heavyweight Sean McGlinchey, who both lost on unanimous decisions in their semi-finals to Junias Jonas from Namibia and David Nykia from New Zealand respectively

Duffy said: "He was a very tough opponent but on any other day it could have been my fight. It's good to come away with a medal after all the weeks and months of preparations.

"There will be many more major tournaments coming up for me and this won't be the last you'll see of me," added the 23 year-old, who admitted he watched the last Commonwealth Games four years ago in a bar in his home town of Keady, dreaming of competing in the next one.

McGlinchy produced plenty of effort, but lost to the classy Nyika, who with his height and long reach dominated the fight.

"He was better on the day. I tried everything I could," said McGlinchy.

Middleweight Coyle was the last Northern Ireland boxer in the ring last night, but he was beaten in all three rounds by experienced Indian Vijender Vijender.

"I was in with a guy with a lot of experience and I was in second gear and couldn't get going," admitted the Londonderry fighter.

Belfast Telegraph


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