Impressive Nevin stars as Irish enjoy superb day in Milan

JOHN JOE NEVIN, Darren O’Neill and Eric Donovan all won their contests on what was an brilliant day for Irish boxers at the world championships in Milan yesterday.

The hat-trick means that Ireland still have nine of the 11-man team remaining in the tournament with Olympic silver medallist, Kenny Egan, and bronze medallist, Paddy Barnes, both in action over the weekend.

John Joe Nevin, who was bitterly disappointed with his performance in Beijing last year when he failed narrowly to make the quarter finals, left no doubt about his ambitions at those championships when he hammered out an emphatic 19-4 victory over Ramir Najafov (Azerbaijan) in an action-packed bantamweight opener.

The 20-year-old Mullingar man – he boxes out of the Cavan club – left nothing to chance this time.

He won the first round 6-2, the second 6-1 and the Swedish ref had to step in and give Najafov a standing count when Nevin caught him with a text-book combination on his way to winning the third 7-1.

Nevin will now meet Nikola Magovac on Saturday for a place in the last 16. The Serbian beat Omurbek Malabekov (Kazakhstan) yesterday.

Darren O’Neill went in against something of an unknown quantity in Rajan Shilpakar – one of just two Napalese boxers at the championships – who was a gold medallist at the Fifth National Games. But the Paulstown southpaw, a gold medallist at this year’s EU championships, took little time to assess the opposition. He caught his man repeatedly with an accurate right hand jab and some big left hooks to the head and body.

He forced him to take two standing counts en route to winning the first round 18-0. He went on to snatch three more points without reply in the second and was leading 21-0 when the Venezuelan referee, Armando Villa Chirinos, stopped the contest.

On Saturday afternoon O’Neill will meet Stipica Brekalo (Croatia) who beat Faria Agayev (Azerbaijan) 11-8 yesterday and that contest will be for a place in the last 16. Eric Donovan completed the hat-trick for Ireland when he outpointed Bakhodir Karimev (Tajikistan) 13-4 to qualify for a shot at Jai Bhagwan (India).

The Athy southpaw, who spent a year in the shadow of Wicklow lightweight, Ross Hickey, and missed out on Olympic qualification as a result, dominated last night’s contest.

He put all the punches together to win the first round 5-1, consolidated his position when he won the second 4-2 and then coasted to the final bell, winning the third 4-1.

Jai Bhagwan outpointed a tricky Venezuelan, Angel Rodriguez, to complete that particular pairing for tomorrow’s contest for a place among the last 32. Donegal welterweight, Willie McLaughlin (Illies BC), will be in action this morning against Come Ndyshmiye (Burundi). The Donegal man is making his return to the top flight after suffering bruised ribs in the EU championships in the summer.

This afternoon, featherweight David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s, Athy) will have his hands full against Wuttichai Masulk (Thailand). The Mullingar man, however, showed all his old flair this year when he won his third national senior title and he followed that up with a second gold medal at the EU championships.

European bantamweight champion, Luke Campbell, the only Englishman to win a medal at last year’s European championships in Liverpool, got his world championship campaign off to the perfect start when he outpointed the Pan American champion, Rey Vargas (Mexico) 17-3.

Jesus Magdaleno, surprise winner of the US trials, committed practically no errors in his bout with Dimitrijs Gutmans of Latvia. The 17-year-old from Las Vegas dominated from the first bell to the last for a trouble-free 26-7 win.

That win sets up an interesting confrontation on Saturday with Denis Makarov of Germany. Makarov, who was born in Russia, beat Vittorio Parrinello 8-5, inflicting the first defeat on an Italian boxer at those championships.


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