John Joe Nevin scored five points in every round to book his ticket into the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games with an accomplished performance over Kazakhstan’s Kanat Abutalipov in London this afternoon.
The Cavan BC stand out, a two-time AIBA World bronze medalist, took the first frame 5-2, the second 5-3 and drew the third and final round 5-5 with the Kazakh southpaw before having his hand raised in victory on a 15-10 decision at the ExCel.
The Mullingar man, the type of bantamweight that looks elusive even when he’s standing still, got his timing and distance spot on early in this bout and rocked Abutalipov with a left-right combo in the opening three minutes.
Switching occasionally from orthodox to southpaw, the Irish Elite champion also bossed the second frame, another combination finding the target as the Kazakh struggled to come to terms with the the hit and move tactics of the number 5 seed.
Abutalipov had a good third round, but at that stage Nevin, who found the target with a flashing left going down the final stretch, was keeping his distance and picking up insurance points en route to a five-point margin of victory.
He’ll now face Mexico’s Oscar Fierro Valdez in the quarter-finals next Sunday evening. The winner will be guaranteed at least bronze.
Valdez, the 2008 AIBA World Youth champion, ousted Tajikistan’s Anvar Yunosov today.
Yunosov, the number 4 seed, who like Nevin won a bronze medal at the 2011 AIBA World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, was expected to progress from this encounter, but the unseeded Mexican upset the odds to secure an impressive 13-7 verdict and book his ticket into the last-eight.
Nevin and Valdez competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where both fighters lost out to Mongolia’s Enkhbat Badar-Uugan, who went on to claim gold.
“Billy and Zuar (Irish coaches) and John got the tactics spot on for today’s contest. They went in with a plan and they stuck to the plan. John boxed exceptionally well today and it was a terrific win, said Irish team manager Des Donnelly.
“The quarter-final will be a tight one as we’re now at the medals stages and it is going to be tough. The support for John was fantastic here again today and there wasn’t a empty seat. I think half of Ireland are over here looking for tickets.”
Meanwhile, Cuba’s number one seed, Lazaro Estrada-Alvarez, beat Joseph Diaz Junior of the USA today and will face Brazil’s Robenilson de Jesus Vieira in the quarter-finals.
de Jesus Vieira recorded a surprise 13-11 over Russia’s Sergey Vodopiyanov this afternoon and will meet either Nevin or Valdez in the semi-finals if he can see off Estrada-Alvarez.
Irish team captain Darren O’Neill will be the next Irish boxer in action. The Kilkenny southpaw is in against Germany’s Stefan Haertel on Thursday afternoon and will be aiming to make it five wins in-a-row for Ireland at the Games.
The winner will meet either the Ukraine’s Ievgen Khytrov, the current AIBA World middleweight champion, or Anthony Ogogo of Great Britain in the quarter-finals.
Meantime, Irish boxing is heading into its most crucial period since the Beijing Olympics. Darren O’Neill, Michael Conlan, Adam Nolan, Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor will all be between the ropes on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.