By Jake Donovan
The good news for Ireland's Paddy Barnes is that he came closer than ever to beating longtime frequent conqueror Zou Shiming of China.
The bad news for Barnes is that "came closer" in boxing still means "lost."
Shiming is now one win away from his second consecutive Olympic Gold medal after barely surviving a countback after fighting to a 15-15 tie with Barnes in Friday's semifinals.
Shiming is a far cry from the fighter who stormed through the field during the 2008 Beijing Games, where he thrilled his hometown fans with one blowout after another en route to the Gold. Included among the lot was a 15-0 shutout of Barnes at this very same stage of competition.
The fight proved to be far more competitive this time around, even more so than their rematch in last year's World Amateur Championships competition. What will haunt Barnes forever was his slow start in this fight, allowing Shiming to jump out to an early lead.
Barnes fought his heart out in every effort to erase the three-point deficit. That moment came in the final three minutes, having Shiming in far greater trouble than perhaps at any other point in his brilliant amateur career.
The round was enough to force a tie-game, but the busier rate of work put in earlier by Shiming propelled him to the finals once the scores went to a countback. The result means two straight Bronze medals for Barnes, who still left with his head held high.
While Shiming barely avoided the upset, the same could not be said of Russia's David Aryapetyan as he came up short in a 13-12 dog fight with Kaeo Pongprayoon of Thailand.
The fighters appeared evenly matched, but Pongprayoon's greater rate of activity played more favorably with the judges than did Aryapetyan's relentless aggression. The final announced result carried the element of surprise, perhaps over the expectation of the Russian light flyweight gaining entrance into the finals.
Instead it is Pongprayoon who proudly marches onward. The only member of the light flyweight Final Four to not receive an opening round bye, the Thai fighter becomes the first to win four fights in this year's competition.
The Shiming-Pongprayoon finale sets up a rematch to the 2011 World Amateur Championships quarterfinals, which was won by Shiming. Their fight for the Gold medal (and silver to the loser) takes place Saturday evening.
Light Flyweight Semifinals (Medal Round - Friday, August 10):
Zou Shiming (China) def. Paddy Barnes (Ireland), 15-15 (countback)
Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand) def. David Aryapetyan (Russia), 13-12
* Barnes and Aryepetyan share Bronze medal honors
Light Flyweight Finals (Saturday, August 11)
Zou Shiming (China) vs. Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand)
Light Flyweight Quarterfinals (Wednesday, August 8)
Zou Shiming (China) vs. Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan), 13-10
Paddy Barnes (Ireland) def. Devendro Singh (India), 23-18
David Aryapetyan (Russia) def. Ferhat Pehlivan (Turkey), 19-11
Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand) def. Aleksander Aleksandrov (Bulgaria), 16-10
Round of 16 Results (Saturday, August 4):
Shiming Zou (China) def. Yosbany Veitia (Cuba), 14-11
Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan) def. Mark Barriga (Philippines), 17-16
Paddy Barnes (Ireland) def. Thomas Essomaba (Cameroon), 15-10
Devendro Singh (India) def. Purevdorjiin Serdamba (Mongolia), 16-11
David Ayrapetyan (Russia) def. Jantony Ortiz (Puerto Rico), 15-13
Ferhat Pehlivan (Turkey) def. Ramy El Awadi (Egypt), 20-6
Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand) def. Carlos Quipo (Ecuador), 10-6
Aleksander Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) def. Jong-Hun Shin (South Korea), 15-14
Light Flyweight - Round of 32 Results (Tuesday, July 31):
Yosbany Veitia (Cuba) def. Billy Ward (Australia), 26-4
Mark Barriga (Philippines) def. Manuel Cappai (Italy), 17-7
Birzhan Zhakypov (Kazakhstan) def. Jeremy Beccu (France), 18-17
Thomas Essomaba (Cameroon) def. Abdelali Daraa (Morocco), 13-10
Devendro Singh (India) def. Bayron Molina (Honduras), RSC-1 (2:24)
Jantony Ortiz (Puerto Rico) vs. Tetteh Sulemanu (Ghana), 20-6
Ferhat Pehlivan (Turkey) def. Carlos Suarez (Trinidad & Tobago), 16-6
Carlos Quipo (Ecuador) def. Jose Kelvin de la Nieve (Spain) , 14-11
Kaeo Pongprayoon (Thailand) def. Mohamed Flissi (Algeria), 19-11
Aleksandr Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) def. Juliano Maquina (Mozambique), 22-7
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
Tags: Amateur Boxing