Team NI: 10 boxers into quarter-finals

Northern Ireland's Steven Donnelly (red) in action against Tonga's Oscar Finau
Northern Ireland's Steven Donnelly (red) in action against Tonga's Oscar Finau

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s quarter-finals at the Commonwealth Games will feature 10 boxers from Team Northern Ireland.

Paddy Barnes went straight through to the quarter-finals after a strong win over Hamadi Furahisha.

He defeated his Tanzanian opponent after a technical knock-out in the third round of the light-flyweight fight. The referee stopped the bout with a minute left in the third round. He’ll fight Papua New Guinea’s Charles Keama on Wednesday.

“It was an easy enough fight, I couldn’t take it lightly going in there, everyone is a danger. When they were announcing the names he was standing with his arms folded and looked like he didn’t want to be there. I knew then he wasn’t going to be a danger,” explained Barnes.

He added: “For me, all I need to do is my best. I think we have such good boxers because of our self-belief. We fear nobody and believe we can beat everybody.

“I still feel there should be a lot of medals here, we have every chance of getting medals in every weight. Before the third bell started I felt like it would be better if they had pulled him out, I don’t think his coach liked him, he let him come out again!”

Barnes said: “I’m happy with my fight, especially because I’ve no injuries to the head. I came out unscathed.”

Boxing star Michael Conlon is also through to Wednesday’s quarter finals after beating Indian opponent Shiva Thapa, the world’s number 3, in the men’s bantam.

“That performance wasn’t my best. I was a bit nervous going into that fight. But there is a lot more to come from me,” said Conlon.

Speaking about his fight, Conlon said: “He tried to come in and be a bit of a roughhouse which doesn’t really work for him. It works more for me. He was quite dirty and rough today so I’m just happy to get the win.

He added: “Our boxing team is inexperienced but we are all in reach of medals. The training and work we have put in has been top notch. It’s been brilliant, I’m really happy to get the win today and get that match over me. I believe we can do the business, I think there are medals on our team. Anything else but gold would be a major disappointment for me. Gold’s the only thing I want. Gold’s the thing I’m going to get.”

Conlon sustained a cut to the head in his previous fight but hasn’t let it stop him: “It’s only a wee cut on the head. I’ve probably had bigger cuts shaving and I don’t even shave!”

Connor Coyle secured a win in his round of 16 middleweight against Guyana’s Dennis Thomas by unanimous decision. He goes through to the quarter finals on Wednesday, when he’ll fight South Africa’s Siphiwe Lusizi.

“It was good, I enjoyed it. I fell asleep sort of in the second round and I knew I had to pick it up in the last round. I just felt the pace a bit but I just had to dig deep and push on. I got the win over me so I enjoyed it and I’ll just progress more and more as the tournament goes on.

“The support in the arena was massive and that helped me to dig deep today. I can’t wait for the next fight now, another win and it’s a medal. The motivation in the team is electric, you can’t ask for better motivation. We push each other on and when someone comes home after a fight we support them and cheer them on.

“I think women’s boxing is brilliant. There are a lot of great female boxers and they should get the opportunity to perform like everybody else does. Michaela has a lot of support from us and from her friends and family. Everybody respects what she does.”

It was a unanimous victory for Ballymena boxer Steven Donnelly as he took on Tonga’s Oscar Finau on Monday night. He goes through to Wednesday’s quarter final against Canada’s Custio Clayton.

“It was good. Another three rounds done and it prepares me for the business end of stuff now against the Canadian. I’ll just relax tomorrow now, I have a wee training session just to make the weight,” said Donnelly.

He added: “I am confident I trained hard for this, it has to happen for me this time. I try not to put too much pressure on myself but it’s always there you know. I have the talent to do it. Overall, we’re going brilliant. Big Stevy Ward was unlucky to lose. He’s a gentleman and I feel he deserved to win. He’ll come again and he’ll join in with the team and keep the spirits up.”

Michaela Walsh made history by competing in the first ever women’s boxing bout at the Commonwealth Games, securing her place in the quarter-finals with a unanimous deicision win over Mauritius’ Thessa Dumas.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Alanna Murphy competes in the women’s light last round of 16.