By Bernard O’Neill
John Joe Nevin had to settle for a bronze medal after narrowly losing out in his bid to reach the 56kg final at the 16th AIBA World Championships in Azerbaijan today.
The Mullingar-born bantamweight was adjudged to have lost his semi-final on a count back to English southpaw Luke Campbell after a 12-12 draw in Baku.
(No count back scores are available).
Campbell, who Nevin beat 13-2 in 2009, edged the first round 4-3, but Nevin, who landed most of the cleaner, more powerful shots throughout, claimed the second 6-5 to leave the scoring tied at 9-9.
Nevin, who was clipped by combinations in the second and third from 6ft Campbell, also landed the more telling punches in the third, one right straight over hitting the target early on.
However, Campbell, who boxes out of the Hull ABC, did catch the advancing Irish champion with a flurry just past mid-midway in the final frame.
Both boxers, aware that the bout was balanced on a knife edge, spent the final seconds of the three-rounder circling around each other not willing to risk being tagged.
But it was Campbell that got the nod on accepted scores to advance to Saturday’s 56kg final with Lazaro Alvarez-Estrada of Cuba.
Speaking after today’s bout, Nevin, whose body shots appeared to have made little or no impression with the five judges, said he was devastated and that he thought he won the last round.
Irish head coach Billy Walsh said that he believed that Nevin had won the contest by a couple of hits.
Meanwhile, Roy Sheehan’s hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics were dashed this afternoon when Egidijus Kavaliauskas retired versus Sapiyev Serik of Kazakhstan in the welterweight semi-final.
The Lithuanian, who beat Sheehan in the last-16, didn’t answer the bell for the start of the second. Serik was 8-2 up.
Boxers losing in the last-16 to the eventual finalists in the eight weight categories from light-fly to light-heavy qualify for the London Olympic Games.
There will be one final qualifier for European male boxers in Istanbul next April.
Katie Taylor and the Irish women’s team will get one opportunity to qualify for the 30th Olympiad from the the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Championships in China next May.
Bantamweight Nevin, middleweight Darren O’Neill and flyweight Michael Conlan qualified for the 2012 Olympics in Baku.
Ireland will be targeting Olympic places at light-flyweight, lightweight, light-welterweight, welterweight, light-heavyweight, heavyweight and super-heavyweight in Istanbul and flyweight, lightweight and middleweight at the AIBA Women’s World Championships in China.