Olympics 2016

Steven Donnelly emerging as Ireland's unlikely boxing hero in Rio as he advances again

Olympics 2016By Sean McGoldrick
Steven Donnelly celebrates his victory
Steven Donnelly celebrates his victory

Ballymena welterweight Steven Donnelly is emerging as Ireland's unlikely boxing hero at the Rio Games.

Donnelly make it two wins out of two with a 2-1 split decision win over 29-year-old Tuvshinbat Byamba of Mongolia after an absorbing contest in the 69kg weight division.

He is the first Irish boxer to win back back-to-back bouts in the tournament, and has secured a place in Saturday's quarter-final where he faces gold medal favourite Mohammed Rabll Mohammed in his bronze medal bout.

The Moroccan native outpointed surprise Kenyan packet Rayton Okwiri in the contest immediately before Donnelly's but although he won on a unanimous 3-0 decision, Mohammed wasn't particularly impressive.

Donnelly looked the more energetic fighter from the bell in his own bout and took the first round on two of the judges' cards and did the same in the same round.

He kept out of trouble in the third and did enough to secure the win on a 30-27; 29-28; 28-29 verdict.

"There was less pressure than in the first fight. I was chilled in the dressing room and just listened to my coaches' plan," said Donnelly who said he was looking forward to taking on the World Champion on Saturday.

There was a palpable sense of relief in the Irish camp with the result after a traumatic week which saw medal contenders Paddy Barnes and Joe Ward crash out in the first round and Michael O'Reilly being pulled out after failing a dope test.