Wary Barnes faces familiar Indian foe in historic medal bid

Paddy Barnes hopes to become the first Irish boxer to win two Olympic medals and victory over newcomer, Devendro Singh (India), in tonight’s quarter-final the ExCel (8.45pm) would fulfil that ambition.

Singh has only emerged on the scene in the past year and High Performance coach Billy Walsh said they will be hoping to exploit his inexperience at this level.

“Do we know him? “We helped prepare him for these Games,” Walsh said.

“We had the entire Indian squad over with us in the National Stadium gym for 10 days in the middle of June, so obviously we got a good look at all of them. Singh is particularly talented for a 20-year-old and he’s come through into the team from nowhere in the last year or so.

“They had another light-flyweight, Amandeep Singh, who was their number one for several years and is still ranked tenth in the world, but this young lad has taken over the mantle now and he really is an exciting prospect.

“ Paddy and himself did quite a bit of sparring together; they were in the ring at least three and maybe four times, so we got a good look at him.

“He’s tough and fast and very, very good on the inside, but he’s not that hot at getting in. When he is in, he’s good and very dangerous, so Paddy’s main job will be to stop him from getting inside.

“Also, Paddy will hope to play on his inexperience, maybe try to frustrate him a bit.”

Barnes, favoured with a bye in the first round, had to wait for a week for his first contest and that was a worry for everyone as the Belfast light fly admits to being nervous before a fight.

“Every fight I still walk into the ring and ask myself what am I doing here,” he said. “It’s something you have to live with. It’s nerves really but I never show that.

“I can’t wait to come home with another medal,” he said. “The last time it was just unreal — coming home and seeing what it meant to people. The medal changed my life. I got more recognition — everyone knew who you were — and your sports grant too. That’s the main thing because I could not do what I’m doing without that. I would like to think at these Olympics I can make history again by becoming the first boxer to win two Olympic medals.”

But he is also itching for another shot at the reigning Olympic champion, Shiming Zou. They met twice previously — at the world championships in Chicago in 2007 and then the semi-finals in Beijing the following year when Barnes was not awarded a single point in the contest.

IABA technical delegate, Terry Smith, agreed the judges had missed something that evening.

“I don’t think anyone would suggest that he (Barnes) should have beaten Zou Shiming,” he said. “I would totally agree that he deserved to score. It is disheartening to leave the ring after four rounds without scoring in what was a busy fight.”

Victory tonight would set up an exciting showdown with Zou Shiming who was not as sharp as four years ago in his first fight here when he struggled at times before defeating the young Cuban, Yosbany Veitia, 14-11.

He now has to beat Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan) tonight to earn his place in the semi-finals.

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