Michael Conlan, one of Ireland's chief gold medal hopes in Rio, began his Olympic campaign in impressive fashion today.
The Belfast man easily dispatched Armenian opponent Aram Avagyan in their round of 16 clash in the men's bantam (56kg) weight category and was awarded with a unanimous decision by the three ringside judges. Conlan boxed clever throughout the three rounds, rarely affording Avagyan any space with which to attack throughout the three rounds and regularly found a home for a series of eye-watering body shots. He sounded quietly confident in the aftermath of the fight on RTE.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 14, 2016
However Conlan addressed the criticism being aimed at the Irish coaching ticket and the media's obsession with Billy Walsh directly to Irish reporters after the fight. In this clip, recorded by Richie McCormack of Newstalk, Conlan robustly defended Zaur Antia and called the media obsession with Walsh 'annoying'.
"Zaur Antia has always been the man...the fact that Billy Walsh isn't in the corner doesn't mean anything".
Conlan's father John is, of course, a coach for Ireland.
Conlan, who has won practically everything you can win in the amateur game, hopes to add Olympic gold to the bronze he won in London found years ago before he transitions to the professional game after the Rio Games reaches its conclusion.
In all likelihood Conlan will now face Russian fighter Vladimir Nikitin in the next round, a boxer who previously bested Conlan in the quarter finals of the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships.