by Charles Jay
John Joe Nevin of Ireland, who is considered a prime contender for a gold medal in Olympic bantamweight action, moved into the third round of competition on Wednesday with a 15-10 win over Kanat Abutalipov of Kazakhstan at the ExCeL Arena in London.
Nevin is the #4-rated boxer at 56 kg by AIBA, and beat Dennis Ceylan in the opening round bout. This fight was more difficult, but frankly, only marginally so. There was a cautious first round, where Abutalipov got little going offensively, and though he came forward aggressively, Nevin got the better of him with counterpunches.
A third round rush by Abutalipov was not going to be enough, although he managed to score some points. At the age of 29, he most likely exits Olympic competition forever.
Meanwhile, the Irish hope moves forward.
The Nevin story is well-known by now. An Irish Traveller, he won the 2008 European Union championships and went to Beijing, where he was Ireland’s representative in this weight class. He lost in the second round of the tournament to Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan, who went on to win the gold that year, then won a bronze nedal in the 2009 World Amateur Championships, repeating that feat in the 2011 edition of the same competition.
Members of the Irish press like to point to the fact that Nevin almost never got to this place, because he was frustrated with boxing and almost quit over what he thought was shabby treatment by the judges in a 2006 tournamnet that was held in Kansas City, when he lost on a highly questionable decision.
Indeed, the judges booed and threw some things into the ring. Nevin was disgusted, to the point where he vowed he would never put the glov son again.
Now, as we fast forward to London 2012, he is in his second Olympiad and is considered to be one of the best hopes Ireland has, not only for a medal in Olympic boxing, but glory in professional boxing. He is involved, to an extent, in puncyhing for pay, qas he is a member of World Series of Boxing, which is an AIBA concotion. In fact, during action for Paris United this year, he suffered a broken jaw, which cast some doubt on his readiness for these Games.
There are promoters interested in his career on both sides of the Atlantic, and he can do a lot for Irish boxing if he can get the proper guidance and rise in the pro ranks. Nevin has the tools for success in the pro ring, with admirable hand speed and a great deal of ring generalship. One of the things that his coaches point out is that he is full of poise and able to handle almost every situation.
His next “situation” in these Olympics wil take place on Sunday, when he faces Oscar Valdez Fierro of Mexico, who scored a big upset over AIBA’s #1, Anvar Yusunov, in the last bout of the afternoon session. Having Yusunov out of the way is a big break for Nevin, and Irish eyes.