John Joe Nevin is hoping to emulate compatriot Katie Taylor with Olympic gold after seeing off world champion Estrada Alvarez to reach the final of the men’s bantamweight division.
After outgunning the Cuban top seed 19-14 in today’s semi-final at the ExCel Arena, the worst Nevin can leave London 2012 with is now silver.
But he was among thousands of Irish supporters who were delighted to see Taylor win the women’s lightweight gold medal yesterday and is eager to join her on top of the podium.
“It was (inspiring) to see Katie do so well, no-one deserves it more than her - the commitment she has to the sport is unbelievable,” said the 23-year-old.
“She’s very focused on what she wants and what she has wanted for the last few years she got yesterday. I’m over the moon for her. But we’re not done yet, I can still join her with the gold.”
Nevin was surprisingly comfortable in his defeat of Alvarez, even showboating in the closing stages with an impromptu take on the Ali shuffle.
Great Britain’s Luke Campbell awaits in the final after he eased past Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu 20-11 and Barnes is hoping to produce a repeat performance.
“I think Alvarez kind of gave up halfway into the last round. He knew he wasn’t getting to me and he kind of handed me the fight,” he said.
“I don’t know what happened (with the shuffle). It’s done and dusted but hopefully I can be doing it again in the last 10 seconds tomorrow night.”
Nevin also made an early bid to establish the psychological edge over Campbell, adding: “We’ve had two fights before. We’ll say one of them was tight (when Campbell won) and one of them I beat him handy.
“I’ll go out smiling and enjoy the whole thing. It’s brought me all the way to the final and hopefully it can take me one step further.”
Another Irishman, Paddy Barnes, was close to scoring a big upset of his own in his light-flyweight semi-final.
He was pitted against Chinese top seed Zou Shiming, the man who won gold in Beijing four years ago and beat Barnes 15-0 in the last four of that competition.
There was no repeat of that thrashing this time, with Barnes warming to his task after a slow first round and ending far the stronger to end the bout tied on 15-15.
The decision went in Zou’s favour on countback, leaving Belfast’s Barnes with a second Olympic bronze and Zou with a final against Kaeo Pongprayoon.
Having been unhappy with his Beijing semi-final – and medal – in 2008, Barnes was pleased with his improved showing.
“I really thought I had him with a few more punches, but I’m not going to cry about it,” he said.
“He’s a three-time world champion and an Olympic champion and you don’t get that for no reason.
“I’m proud. In Beijing it was 15-0, I thought that was unfair and that’s why I went off on a rant about the bronze medal but 15-15 is not bad.
“Hopefully I’ll have a chance in four years because he’ll be retired!”
Ukraine’s world silver medallist Denis Berinchyk pulled off a spectacular last round to reach the light-welterweight final with a 29-21 victory over Mongolia’s Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg.
Uranchimeg appeared to coasting to an upset win as he went into the last three points clear, but Berinchyk poured in the shots and forced his opponent to take two standing counts en route to a clear points win.
Berinchyk will face Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo in the final after Sotolongo defeated Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre 15-8.
Home favourite Anthony Ogogo’s hopes of middleweight gold turned to bronze after he hit the canvas twice on his way to a 16-9 semi-final defeat at the hands of powerful Brazilian Falcao Florentino.
Japan’s second seed Ryota Murata is next up for Florentino after snatching a 13-12 success over Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev with a four-point swing in the last round.
The gold medal match in the heavyweight division will be contested by number one seed Oleksandr Usyk, who bullied his Bulgarian opponent Tervel Pulev 21-5, and Italy’s Clemente Russo.
Russo edged Azerbaijan’s Teymur Mammadov into the bronze medal positions with a big third round, scoring a 15-13 win having started the bout negatively.