IRISH BANTAMWEIGHT John Joe Nevin guaranteed his shot at Olympic gold next summer with a stunning comeback victory at the AIBA World Championships in Baku this morning.
The 22-year-old, who represented Ireland in Beijing three years ago, needed a late rally to claim a countback victory after taking standing counts in both the first and second rounds against Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia.
The Cavan man trailed by two points heading into the final round but took the fight to his opponent, securing an 18-18 draw and the eventual countback decision.
“I forgot about the judges, forgot about everyone else and just went out to win that one round,” Nevin told Paul McDermott afterwards.
I went out early on and picked up a few scores, thank God, and it paid off.
Nevin will be joined in London — and in the quarter-finals of the championships — by Paulstown middleweight Darren O’Neill.
The Kilkenny southpaw put in an assured performance to beat Mladen Manev of Bulgaria 19-12, setting up a meeting with Japan’s hot prospect Ryota Murata in the last eight tomorrow.
“I’m not even going to think about it tonight,” O’Neill said. “Obviously it’ll play on your mind a little bit but I’m just going to try to switch off and enjoy today for what it is.”
Earlier this morning, a gutted Joe Ward was left to count the cost of a two-point penalty after suffering a shock defeat.
The Moate man was held to a 15-15 draw by Ehsan Rouzbahani of Iran, losing the fight on a countback.
After an evenly matched opening round saw the fighters level at 4-4, Ward’s second-round penalty tipped the balance in favour of his opponent, allowing Rouzbahani to open up a four-point lead at 12-8.
A rattled Ward dug deep to claw himself back into the fight in the final round and, after Rouzbahani was docked two points of his own late on, tied the contest at 15-15 but lost by virtue of a countback.
Afterwards, the youngster was quick to point to his penalty as the turning-point in the fight.
That definitely destroyed the fight. I didn’t deserve that, he was doing most of the holding and pulling and I was trying to box. What can you say?
“I’m very, very disappointed,” he added. “I just can’t believe I’ve been beaten.
“Four judges had me winning, one judge had me losing, and I lost it on a countback. It’s absolutely devastating.”
Four more Irish fighters have still to fight their last 16 bouts today with Michael Conlon, Roy Sheehna, David Oliver Joyce and Con Sheehan all back in the ring this afternoon.