Paddy Barnes has become the first Irish boxer – and only the second Irish sportsperson – to win medals at separate Olympic Games after he beat India’s Devendro Singh Laishram in their light flyweight quarter-final.
A win against Laishram guarantees the Belfast fighter at least a bronze medal at this year’s Olympics.
In what was a tricky fight, Barnes had to dig deep – especially in the final round, but he won out on a scoreline of 23-18 against an opponent who caused problems throughout.
Fighting behind his trademark high guard, Barnes scored with early left hooks to the body.
Barnes made his powerful left count and took the opening round 7-5.
He continued to enjoy success with his left, tagging Laisharan at will and the Indian’s aggression turned ugly as he gave up two points to Barnes after he was penalised for the use of the head.
Laisharan was lucky to avoid another penalty for hitting on the break, but the damage was done by this stage and Barnes won the round 10-5, extending his lead to 17-10.
Barnes was again on the front foot at the start of the final round, catching his opponent with another powerful left hook to the body that extended his lead.
A frustrated Laisharan pushed forward and under pressure from his opponent, Barnes slipped by the ropes but the referee was aware enough to realise that it wasn’t a punch that put him there and there was no standing count.
By this stage Laisharan’s discipline was fading and his punching becoming wild as he threw haymakers in the hope of landing the knockout blow that he would need to win the fight.
Both fighters raised their hands at the final bell, Barnes confidently, Laisharan in desperate hope, but there was only one winner of this fight and even though the Indian fighter took the final round 8-6, Belfast’s Barnes won out on a scoreline of 23-18.
Afterwards, Barnes said: “I’m over the moon, Words cannot describe how I’m feeling. I knew he’d come forward with all guns blazing, but I felt stronger than him,” said the two-time Olympic medalist after his win.
“I trained hard and I know how good I am. I’m confident in myself. I’m going for the gold.”
Up next for Barnes in the semi-final is the man who beat him at the Beijing Olympics, Zou Shiming of China.