John Joe Nevin loses in fantastic final
John Joe Nevin has tonight lost against Luke Campbell in the men’s Bantamweight final.
The 23-year old Mullingar native couldn’t win Ireland’s second gold medal after Katie Taylor’s victory on Thursday when he faced Hull’s Luke Campbell.
The fight was one for the ages as the two fighters put on a fight of sheer class and pace that ended 14-11 to Campbell who utilised his reach and counterpunching to win by three points thanks to a great last round by the Englishman.
Campbell, who has family in Ireland, had praised Nevin before the fight and said this was the final he expected before the tournament.
If that's the fight Campbell expected this was also the fight that all boxing fans and neutrals hoped for, as it was a pulsating contest.
Nevin will feel aggrieved with the scoring of the first round which was scored 5-3 to the Englishman, though a two point lead for the Englishman bouyed by a home crowd seemed excessive.
The second round saw Nevin close Campbell’s lead to two points.
In the final round Nevin seemed to lose his composure as Campbell scored a brilliant hook counter to force Nevin to take a count from the referee and Campbell picked off Nevin from there.
Despite the close loss in one of the fights of the Olympics, this tournament and the silver medal still represents a great individual success for Nevin who also competed in the Olympics in 2008 when he lost to eventual champion Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan in the last 16.
In London 2012 he lost to the eventual champion again, this time in the final.
Afterwards a visibly upset Nevin said he feels like a “failure” after losing the final. Nevin, who fought fantastically throughout the tournament and was being mentioned as a contender for the prestigious Val Barker trophy, shouldn’t have any such feelings he and his team have been superb.
Light flyweight Paddy Barnes also found out today that he lost to the eventual champion in his semi as Zou Shiming took gold in the final.
Prior to the games IABA President Tommy Murphy said he would be disappointed if Ireland didn’t come home with six medals. Murphy’s certainly not going to be disappointed with four medals - the performances of Ireland’s six boxers represent a victory for the high performance squad and its head coach Billy Walsh who has always promoted Irish boxing to aim for high goals and gives credence to the old saying “Aim for the moon and if you don’t reach it you will land amongst the stars.”
In recognition of Irish boxing’s contribution to this Olympics the boxing team’s captain Darren O’Neill was today named Irish flagbearer for the closing ceremony tomorrow.
It’s probably fitting that Irish boxing is being recognised thusly as with one gold, two bronzes and the silver medal tonight means Ireland are second behind Britain in the boxing medal table in Irish boxing’s greatest Olympics ever.