Rio Olympics

Steven Donnelly eases into welterweight last 16 in Rio

Ireland's Steven Donnelly (left) drives a cracking right hand into the body of Algeria's Zohir Kedache during their welterweight clash at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Peter Dorman

IRISH welterweight Stephen Donnelly has cruised past the preliminary round in Rio with a convincing points win over Algeria's Zohir Kedache.

The Ballymena man outclassed his opponent for the entirety of the bout, with the result never looking in doubt.

Speaking after the fight, Donnelly said: "It was a great win for me, it's always good to get the first one out of the way.

"I'm glad to get in and get three good rounds under my belt and come away with the win.

"[Kedache] is a crafty southpaw so I just had to listen to my coaches in the corner and use my jab.

"There were times there I was falling in a wee bit more but that'll come with sharpness and more rounds."

Donnelly will now face Mongolian fighter Tuvshinbat Byamba in the last 16.

"I don't know much about him," said Donnelly on his next opponent. "But the coaches will have videos of him and we're ready for anyone.

"We'll go back and look [at the videos] and see what he's like and we'll get the jobs done."

After the fight, Irish boxing legend Mick Dowling hailed Donnelly's impressive performance, pinpointing his game plan execution as crucial.

"He was following instructions from his corner very well," said Dowling.

"It was really a very good, comprehensive, boxing lesson that he handed out today.

1992 gold medallist Michael Caruth said that, despite being a relatively easy fight for Donnelly, it was 'still a first class performance' for his first attempt in the Olympic games.

"He was very controlled with his jabs. He was very controlled with his three ranges," Caruth added.

"Going into the next fight, if he continues that type of style he's in with a great chance of going through."

Caruth also pointed out Donnelly's self-confessed shortcoming of falling over when throwing his right hand.

"He's going to have to be very careful on that on his next opponent because [Tuvshinbat Byamba] tends to throw a lot of backhands."

Looking forward Donnelly is firmly focussed on a podium finish in his first foray into Olympic boxing.

Donnelly said: "I have the ability to do it and I'll get better with each fight.

"This is only the start of the journey so hopefully I can keep that going and go on and do the country proud."

In an controversial week for Irish boxing, Donnelly insisted that the spirit in the camp has not been affected by the alleged doping scandal surrounding Irish middleweight Michael O'Reilly.

"We have to focus on our own game," said Donnelly. "I don't really know much about [O'Reilly's situation] but what we have to do is just focus on ourselves and the spirit in the camp is fantastic.

"It hasn't changed in one way at all... So we're all going for gold and we're all happy." 

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