Monthly Archives: August 2008
22 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
An emotional Paddy Barnes offered to give his Olympic medal back after being left distraught at not being awarded a solitary score during his light-flyweight semi-final defeat by Shiming Zou on Friday.
Barnes came out on the wrong end of a 15-0 scoreline and while he did not feel he had won the bout, he was furious that his best shots went unrewarded.
“There’s no way I lost 15-0. I hit him with clean shots. The way the judging is out here, it should be the judges being drug-tested, not the fighters,” the 21-year-old from Belfast exclaimed.
“I don’t care about the bronze medal. They can keep it for all I care. Bronze is for losers.”
28 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Darren Sutherland is fully aware that he is entering a ‘minefield’ in trying to make a successful switch from amateur to professional boxing.
The 26-year-old middleweight, who claimed a bronze in the Olympic Games in Beijing, has long been expected to move into the paid ranks and he confirmed on Wednesday that he now intends to start weighing up the promotional and management options available to him.
Frank Warren has already expressed his interest in offering Sutherland professional terms but the 26-year-old Dubliner insists that he will not be rushed into deciding with whom to entrust his future in the pro game.
“That’s the minefield that I’m going to have to take my time and go through. I have to look at all the offers and find the deal that’s right for me,” he said.
“Everyone kind of knew even before I qualified for the Olympics that my heart was always in the professional game. It was always where I wanted to go.
“But at the same time I wanted to go out on a high note and to reach the pinnacle of my amateur career.
“I’m probably going to take a week or two weeks off now, just to relax and let it all sink in and then sit down with the different trainers and managers and see what they have to offer. And then its about making the right choice and finding the right team that I gel with.”
22 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Frank Warren has revealed his interest in offering professional deals to Irish Olympic heroes Darren Sutherland and Kenny Egan.
Middleweight Sutherland has already confirmed that he intends to enter the paid ranks following his bronze medal success in Beijing, but light-heavyweight silver medallist Egan is expected to remain amateur.
However, the latter’s head will undoubtedly be turned by Warren’s admission that he would welcome both Irishman into his Sports Network stable.
“I think both of them would make a great addition to the professional ranks,” the promoter told Newstalk 106.
“I’m interested in any world quality, any world class fighter, amateur world class fighter and I think both of them have a lot to offer. So if they are interested, I certainly would be keen to speak to them.”
And Warren feels that the timing is now right for both men to make the switch, believing that if they leave it any later, it will be too late.
“In the case of Darren and Kenny their age is against them. At the next Olympics they will both be 30. So if they are going to turn professional, now is the time to do it,” he declared.
“I think Darren would make a decent professional. Also Kenny would as well. Kenny, I thought he boxed quite well at the Olympics.”
He continued: “But the Olympics are a difficult thing, a little bit false in some ways.
“Michael Carruth, I think he was 30 when he won the gold medal. Unfortunately he just didn’t make it as a pro, as he left it too late.
“The bottom line was that he just could not adapt to the pro ranks. And there are a number of guys who, when you look over the years from Britain’s point of view, I think we have won four gold medals since the war, but only one of those won a world title.
“So that tells you that winning a gold medal does not necessary mean you’ll be a success. The best in the Olympics does not necessary make you the best as a pro.”
22 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Darren Sutherland’s hopes of Olympic gold were ended by a disappointing 10-3 defeat to bitter rival James DeGale in Beijing on Friday.
Middleweight Sutherland had triumphed in four of their five previous meetings but, in winning their most recent encounter, it appeared that DeGale had made a crucial psychological breakthrough because the Briton always looked supremely confident of victory in this contest.
DeGale controlled the bout from the outside, keeping Sutherland out of range as he went about scoring with right hands and superbly-timed left uppercuts.
Sutherland, though, it has to said, did not produce his best form. The Dubliner saw some good shots fail to register with the judges but, defensively, he was nowhere near as tight as he had been in his win over Alfonso Blanco Parra in the quarter-finals.
Crucially, his left hand, which had one much of the damage against Blanco, was also far less effective. Essentially, Sutherland struggled to get close to DeGale and had to go chasing his man from an early stage, and that led to mistakes.
The first round had been desperately tight and cagey, which was hardly surprising given their familiarity with one another.
It was also unsurprising that the rounded ended level at one point apiece.
DeGale had moved two clear by the end of the second, though, after scoring with a brilliant left uppercut and a sweet right hand just before the bell.
The British fighter enjoyed further success with his left uppercuts and right hands in the third, the round which effectively decided the bout in his favour, DeGale winning it 5-1.
The heavy-handed Sutherland pressed forward in the final round, looking desperately for the haymaker that might stun DeGale and allow the Irishman to turn the fight around.
However, DeGale, who must now be supremely confident of winning gold, again boxed sensibly on the outside as he claimed a win which will have meant much to him, not least because of the ill-feeling between him and his opponent.
For Sutherland, meanwhile, defeat to DeGale will come as a bitter blow but he should not dwell on it. Indeed, like his team-mates Kenny Egan and Paddy Barnes, he has made history by claiming a medal in Beijing and should soon start looking forward excitedly to what should prove a hugely successful career in the paid ranks.
06 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Ireland’s five qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics are currently in the final stages of their preparations for the Beijing Games.
This weekend they will launch their respective bids for glory. In less than a fortnight, they could have enshrined their names in the annals of Irish sporting history. In years to come their exploits in China could be mentioned as fondly and respectfully as those of Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth in Barcelona 16 years ago.
Of course, all five of them are well aware of what is at stake, of what is to gain, but what are their chances of medal success?
Below, we have a closer look at each boxer and try, as best we can, to evaluate their chances of achieving immortality in Beijing.
Obviously, the upcoming draw will ultimately prove crucial but something tells us that at least one of our Olympians is on the verge of something very special…..
The first of the Irish contingent to qualify for Beijing, the Belfast light-flyweight did so by surprising his team-mates – and perhaps even himself – by reaching the the quarter-finals of last years World Championships in Chicago, his progress only halted by eventual winner Zou Shimin.
As that run proved, Barnes is a classy fighter who belongs at this level and, at just 21, deserves to be regarded as one of Ireland’s most exciting young talents.
However, Beijing might be coming a tad too soon for Barnes in terms of winning a medal and a tad too late in terms of his momentum.
Indeed, it has been a long wait for Barnes – he recently admitted that his season has ‘dragged’ somewhat – and he might not be as competition-sharp as some of his team-mates.
Beijing should, though, turn out to be a tremendous learning experience for him ahead of what one hopes will be another Olympic bid in London in four years’ time.
However, this stylish boxer cannot be discounted and, with a favourable draw, Barnes could again upset a few more illustrious names on his way to the latter stages of the biggest and most prestigious tournament in amateur boxing.
The Irish team captain will be expected to lead by example in China.
Dublin Light-heavyweight Egan came desperately close to missing out on Beijing before eventually sailing through in style, claiming gold in the final qualifying tournament, in Greece in April.
Now that he is in the draw, Egan is a decent bet for a medal. The Neilstown native is one of the highest-ranked light-heavyweights in Europe and, if he can avoid the big guns early on and is allowed to feel his way into he tournament, could easily reach the last four.
At 26, he certainly has the experience and, as an eight-time National Seniors champion and a former European bronze medallist, he also has the pedigree.
The fact that he is a southpaw also marks him out as an opponent that most of the top light-heavyweights will want to avoid.
Egan has had to wait a long time for his first Olympics appearance – he was devastated after missing out on Athens in 2004 – but a change in his entire mental approach seems to have worked wonders for him when it comes to coping with pressure and expectancy.
Indeed, now that his chance has finally arrived, he seems in no mood to let pass him by.
JOHN JOE NEVIN:
John Joe Nevin is very much the dark horse of the Irish group.
This skilled bantamweight is just 19 years of age and fighting in one of the most competitive divisions in the tournament. However, there is a growing feeling that Nevin might just be capable of getting amongst the medals.
Certainly, when Andy Lee starts talking about Nevin as Irelands best prospect primarily for his fearless attitude one has to sit up and take notice.
Admittedly, Nevin is a confident and slick operator, and there’s no doubt that many of his rivals will be hoping to stay out of his way early on.
But perhaps it is expecting a little too much for one so young and one so young inexperienced to collect a medal in Beijing; London 2012 would appear to be a more realistic target.
But should it be? Nevin has now beaten some of the top guys in his weight class and that aforementioned self-belief could take him very far indeed….
Definitely one to watch in Beijing. Sutherland is a confident (some might say cocky!), hard-hitting middleweight who is regularly involved in exciting fights.
However, that could prove detrimental to his chances of picking up a medal in this very competitive weight class.
Sutherland can really bang and one could easily foresee him forcing a stoppage during his Beijing bid. However, as he himself freely admits, he does not like the points-scoring system and his style is far more suited to the professional ranks.
Still, as he proved in defending his Irish senior title with a win over his great domestic rival Darren ONeill, Sutherland has heart and intelligence as well as power, and is a genuine medal contender. The draw, though, will be so crucial for this dyanmic fighter.
JOHN JOE JOYCE:
This exciting light-welterweight from Kildare seems to be building momentum at just the right time. A proven talent at junior level, he is now firmly established as Irelands best at 64kg.
Like Egan and Sutherland, he only booked his place in Beijing in the final qualifier in Greece. However, like his aforementioned team-mates, he did so with a gold medal around his neck, underlining his status as a boxer of real talent.
Joyce’s qualification was a welcome and thrilling surprise for the High Performance team and he is now in the rather enviable position of having nothing to lose in Beijing.
He is a determined character who showed impressive mental strength in bouncing back from the disappointment of Pescara to effectively cruise through in Athens.
Indeed, the Irish team were particularly impressed with they way in which Joyce took everything in his stride in Greece and positively outclassed his opponents in the latter stages.
This is a fighter who seems to excel when it matters most, to relish upsetting the odds and that makes him a very intriguing prospect. Again, if the draw went his way, Joyce could easily turn out to be Ireland’s surprise package in Beijing.
Posted August 26th, 2008 in News
24 August 2008 – by Brian Murphy
Kenny Egan was denied an Olympic gold medal after coming out on the wrong end of a contentious 11-7 scoreline in his bout with China’s Xiaoping Zhang on Sunday.
Bidding for Ireland’s first boxing gold since Michael Carruth in 1992, Egan looked confident as he stepped into the ring on the final day of the Beijing Games, but he was always behind the Chinese fighter.
Zhang moved into an early lead, scoring twice in the first round, but poor judging was evident once again as Egan missed out on a couple of seemingly obvious points.
Egan stepped up his game in the second to pick up three points, but Zhang also scored several times and his two-point advantage was still intact by the halfway point.
The pair could not be separated in the third either, with both fighters picking up two points, although Egan should have been awarded another point after landing a heavy body shot.
Egan was up against it in the final round but the Neilstown fighter came out in determined mood, only for the judges to, once again, miss a couple of blatant scoring shots.
Zhang, however, was consistently awarded points for less obvious hits and he stretched clear to end the round 11-7 in front.
“I tried 100 percent. He got the lead, a silly lead at the start of it. I was still asleep,” Egan told RTE after the bout. “I’m disgusted with myself for that. That’s my only regret in the whole competition, the first round, but I gave it everything I had in the last three.
“I just threw everything I had. He caught me with a couple of good shots, I caught him. Body shots as well that probably didn’t score.
“But I’m not going to start making excuses. I’ve had a great campaign. I want to thank all the supporters here and at home. That’s it, that’s the end of the fairytale for now.
“I’m happy. I’m very, very happy. It would have been nice to take the gold. It’s always the same, when you win something you want more.
“He boxed well himself, he had a hard draw himself. He done well and beat the Russian and Kazakh. You can’t take it away from him. He done it there tonight.”
Egan’s coach Billy Walsh was dismayed by the scoring in the final.
“It is a bit of a joke,” he exclaimed. “A blind man could see that Kenny scored four or five clean shots that he didn’t get. A couple of times Zhang didn’t have clean shots but he got them.
“At the end of the day he is going home with a silver medal. We wanted gold, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and he certainly has done his country proud.”
01 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Great Britains Tony Jeffries was left bemused by the scoring in Sundays light-heavyweight decider in Beijing, believing that Irelands Kenny Egan was the clear victor in his bout with Zhang Xiaoping of China.
Zhang was awarded the decision 11-7 but many felt that the judges had favoured the hometown favourite.
Certainly, Jeffries, who was beaten by Egan in the semi-finals, that the Dubliner had been hard done by.
I feel for Kenny. I think he should be walking away with a gold medal, the Sunderland fighter is quoted as saying by The Sun.
The scorings not been very good all the way through, but there it was terrible.
Zhang was hitting Kenny on the arms, which is not a scoring shot, but the crowd were going mad it wand was they who were effectively pressing the button.
When Kenny was hitting him with good clean shots they werent scoring and Zhang was touching Kenny with little shots and scoring.
I think Kenny should have won by three or four points.
However, Zhang felt that he was good value for his win.
I believe that in the first round that I was leading by two points but I think the other three rounds were pretty equal in terms of points,” he argued.
I believe that in terms of tactics were are similar and we are similar in terms of our skills.
In the fourth round when Kenny was attacking very aggressively I was able to counter that with some good footwork.
25 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Kenny Egan has yet to decide whether to turn professional following his silver medal success in the Beijing Olympics.
The 26-year-old light-heavyweight was one of the most impressive fighters on show in China and it is highly likely that he will be offered professional deals by a number of interested promoters.
However, Egan is putting all thoughts of quitting the amateur game to one side for the time being at least.
I havent signed anything yet or even though about my future, the affable Dubliner insisted.
Im just looking forward to getting home for a bit of time out.
It has been a long five weeks between training camps and the Olympic Games themselves.
It has been very mentally draining but Im proud of the way I performed.
Im captain of the Irish team and Im proud to be. In four years time, I could still be captain.
I love the amateur game. Thats what I am all about. There are younger lads on the team who will hopefully stay amateur and could be there in 2012 also.
Egan, meanwhile, refused to be overly critical of the performance of the judges in his 11-7 defeat by China’s Xiapoing Zhang in Sunday’s light-heavyweight decider.
Most neutrals felt that Egan had won the fight but, despite being devastated by the outcome, he tried to remain upbeat.
Theres nothing I can do about it. A scores a score and I just have to settle for silver. Im disgusted but thats how things go; thats sport. There has to be a loser,” he mused.
He threw a few shots there where he hit my elbow and I could hear the Chinese going bananas. I obviously knew he was getting a score. I knew myself it was going to be a hard fight after that.
Its ridiculous. Over the last two weeks weve known body shots havent been scoring.
He was throwing shots and getting scores, fair play to him.
I knew it was going to be hard if he got a lead or if it was in any way close. Even the countback he won in the previous fight, that was close.
I was chasing a little bit in the end but I had to. I wasnt going to sit back and let the clock tick away.
25 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Paddy Barnes is hoping that his Olympic campaign will be remembered for his exploits in the ring rather than what he said out of it.
The Belfast light-flyweight was absolutely devastated after failing to register a single point in his semi-final clash with Shiming Zou on Friday [0-15] and so disgusted was he with the judges that he said that he was not interested in collecting his bronze medal.
However, Barnes subsequently calmed down and did indeed make it to the podium on Sunday.
He is now praying, though, that he can put the controversy surrounding his post-fight comments behind him.
I had a bad few days but I sat down and thought about it after I lost and I realised I was never going to be a winner over here anyway because theres no way I was going to beat Shiming Zou, Barnes reasoned.
After the fight I said a few things, heat of the moment stuff. Some people back home probably do understand but the papers just jumped at the chance to ridicule me. But I just need to grow up.
But, at the end of the day, its still a bronze. As soon as I got out of the ring there were a load of microphones stuck in my face.
But, hopefully, people will remember me more as an Olympic bronze medallist than for what I said.
Barnes has been tipped to turn professional after catching the eye with his dynamic displays in China but he is already talking optimistically about his chances of gold in London in 1012.
Im going to stay at 48kg and hopefully Shiming Zou retires and gives me a chance, he joked.
Getting the bronze is the proudest moment of my life but hopefully there will be a prouder moment when Im a 25-year-old and get the gold.
But hes Olympic champion, Im not. Im as sick as a dog but can you do?
22 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Kenneth Egan vowed to be the first Irishman into the ring in Beijing and the last man to come out of it – and he delivered on is promise in typically stylish fashion on Friday, by booking his place in the final of the light-heavyweight category with a commanding 10-3 win over Tony Jeffries.
Dubliner Egan produced yet another sublime display to move to within one victory of gold, moving up through the gears after a cautious opening round to sweept his British opponent aside.
Indeed, the Neilstown fighter was simply content to feel out Jeffries in the opening stanza, which ended with the pair deadlocked at one point apiece, but he assumed control in the second, racking up three unanswered points with a fine left hand and two superb straight rights.
By the halfway point, Egan was in complete control. He was moving with his customary grace and poise on the outside and landing freely as The Fields of Athenry rang around the Workers Gymnasium.
Egan ended the third 9-1 up after registering five more points without any reply from Jeffries. His movement and footwork was just too good for the Sunderland man, who was, quite simply, out of his depth against such an accomplished fighter.
Jeffries did manage to at least nick the final round 2-1 but the fight was long over at that point and Egan had already turned his attention to Sundays gold medal decider against Chinas Xiaoping Zhang and a shot at immortality.