12 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle
John Joe Nevin maintained the Irish boxing team’s winning start to the Olympics with a deserved 9-4 victory over Abdelhalim Ourradi in a scrappy last-32 bantamweight clash in Beijing on Tuesday.
Nevin had been beaten by Ourradi on the countback system in a box-off at a pre-Games training camp, but the 18-year-old Mullingar man, who boxes out of Cavan, always looked the likely victor in this bout.
Indeed, while the first round ended without either fighter registering a point, the elusive Nevin had clearly settled the better.
He opened the scoring just over 30 seconds into the second before doubling his advantage with a big right hand to move two points up.
Nevin rather sloppily allowed Ourradi to draw level by twice leaving his chin exposed as he tried to slip away from the Algerian, but he ended the round a point to the good courtesy of a beautiful left hook.
The fight was going according to plan for Nevin, but the rather fussy referee very nearly derailed his hopes, Kazakhstans Berikbol Kassymkanov handing the Irish fighter a warning midway through the third for holding which saw him fall one point behind.
Credit to Nevin, though, he did not panic and, after the referee had even matters up by penalising Ourradi for a similar offence moments later, he rocked his opponent with a sweetly-executed right hand to the head to move 6-4 ahead.
Nevin, going into the final round, was now exactly where he wanted to be.
Safe in the knowledge that he was in the lead, he danced his way through the final round, frustrating Ourradi with his superb movement and outstanding counter-attacking skills.
A rapid-fire one-two saw Nevin move three points clear. A straight right and outstanding left hook followed soon after, and Nevin was able to indulge in a little bit of showboating in the closing seconds of the bout.
One could hardly begrudge Nevin that show of supremacy after producing a performance which ensured that Ireland will have five fighters competing in the last 16 in this year’s Games.
Nevin will now face World Championship silver medallist Badar-Uugan Enkhbat in the last 16.