Boost for Paddy Barnes in race to Rio

Michael Conlan (left) and Paddy Barnes will be in action in Milan
Michael Conlan (left) and Paddy Barnes will be in action in Milan

Double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes has received a major boost in his bid to secure a place at next year's Games in Rio.

Barnes' main rival for the solitary light flyweight slot available for boxers competing in the World Boxing Series has dropped crucial points in the race.

Hasanboy Dusmatov who represents the Ukraine Otamans franchise in the WBS series maintained his one hundred record in the series tonight in London's York Hall.

But as he was given a walkover against Welshman Ashley Williams who was due to represent the British Lionhearts squad, the Uzbek boxer only earned three ranking points.

He now leads Barnes by three points (23-20) but the Belfast boxer  has a golden opportunity to overtake his rival provided he wins his bout in Milan on Saturday night against Joshua Franco from the USA Knockouts squad.

Currently Barnes is unbeaten in the series and three of his four wins which been achieved on the road with the Italia Thunder team.

In the WSB series a unanimous win earns a boxer five ranking points while he collects four points for a majority verdict.

Meanwhile, in another boost to his confidence Barnes has been named the World Series Boxer of the week.

The multiple Irish Elite champions says his aim if he gets to the 31st Olympiad in Rio will be to capture the gold medal.

“I’m tired of the kids on the street calling me ‘Paddy Bronze’, so it’s time to get that Gold!,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is crunch time for Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan in his bid to secure one of the two available Olympic qualifying spots in his category. He has won two of his four bouts to date and lies third in the ranking.

But a win in Milan against unbeaten American  Francisco Martinez on Saturday night would put him back in the frame to claim an early qualification.