Northern Ireland news

Big weekend for Irish medal hopes in Rio with three boxing bouts

John Monaghan

A MASSIVE weekend for Irish medal hopes at the Olympics gets underway today as the country's boxers take to the ring.

Over the next two days, Stephen Donnelly, Brendan Irvine and Michael Conlan all face bouts as they look to add to the silver medal won yesterday by rowing brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan, the only medal so far for Team Ireland.

The trio will be hoping to bring some positive news back to the boxing camp, after an utterly miserable week for Team Ireland.

On Monday, Paddy Barnes was eliminated from the Games after a surprise defeat to Samuel Carmona.

The following day, Michael O'Reilly made history for the wrong reasons when he became the first Irish competitor to be sent home from the Olympics for failing a doping test.

O'Reilly said that he "unintentionally" took a supplement that "may have" contained a banned substance.

Steven Donnelly will be guaranteed a bronze medal if he defeats Morocco's number one seed Mohamed Rabii in the men's welter quarter-finals at 4.15pm Irish time.

The challenge for Donnelly cannot be understated - last year Rabbi won a host of high-level bouts, including a World Elite title, an African Confederation gold medal in his hometown and six World Series of Boxing (WSB) fights on the trot.

The Ballymena BC welter said: "He's a classy operator and he's not the world champion for nothing but I believe in myself and I'm going to give it everything. I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain."

An hour earlier, at 3.15pm Irish time, Belfast boxer Brendan Irvine will take on Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov in the round of 32 in the fly division.

On Sunday at 3.30pm, Michael Conlan, the number one seed in his bantam division and tipped for a medal, faces Aram Avagyan of Armenia for a place in the quarter-finals.

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