16 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
Irelands Paddy Barnes secured his place in the quarter-finals of the Olympics light-flyweight division with an assured 14-8 win over Jose Luis Meza on Saturday.
The Belfast fighter, who had received a bye into the last 16, took a while to work out his southpaw opponent but eventually took complete command of the bout and Meza was a beaten man long before the final bell sounded.
Barnes began in typically energetic fashion, scoring the first point in the bout, but he ended the opening stanza 3-2 down.
That must have been a disappointment for Barnes as he looked to have landed a number of clean shots in the first, particularly in the final 30 seconds of the round, but he put it to one side and blitzed his Ecuadorian adversary in the second, scoring four unanswered points.
That put Barnes three points to the good and he managed to maintain that lead through the third.
Indeed, he cut loose at the end of the round, unleashing a flurry of punches on Meza as he pinned the South American back against the ropes.
As the bell rang, Barnes had perhaps landed a crucial psychological blow. Certainly on the evidence of the fourth, Meza no longer believed he could win the fight.
A swift one-two combination saw Barnes extend his lead early on and he simply did not relent thereafter.
Indeed, even though he was ahead and fully entitled to stay out of harms way, Barnes took the fight to Meza, pressing him at every opportunity.
It was a remarkable move by Barnes and it completely bewildered Meza, who, incredibly, went on the run in a desperate bid to avoid any more punishment.
On this evidence, running away is probably the best tactic to employ in the face of a Barnes onslaught.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see what tactics Polands Lukas Maszczyk employs in Tuesdays last-eight clash with Barnes, who will go into that contest supremely confident of securing a victory which will guarantee him an Olympic medal.