[caption id="attachment_67251" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="John Joe Nevin and Darren O'Neill pictured ahead of the AIBA World Men's Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan. Both men did well enough to qualify for the London Olympics next year."][/caption]
Bantamweight John Joe Nevin picked up a bronze medal after a semi-final loss on a count-back to England's Luke Campbell at the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, last Thursday. But the Cavan lad still made history while booking an Olympic berth.
Two other Irish fighters, flyweight Michael Conlon and middleweight Darren O'Neill also qualified for next summer's Olympics after advancing to the quarterfinals where they both lost.
It means that Ireland, whose five-man contingent to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 won three bronze medals, will have at least three fighters at the London games. Nevin was also in Beijing but lost in the preliminary rounds.
Nevin's defeat to Campbell on a technicality after a 12-12 tie over four rounds, earned him his second career world championship medal - the first such feat by an Irish boxer. The 21 year-old Cavan Boxing Club ace won his first bronze in Milan two years ago.
Still, Nevin said he was devastated by the loss and thought that he'd won the last round and the contest.
To reach the semi-finals Nevin, defeated India's Akhil Kumar 21-14 in the round of 32; beat Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia on a count-back after an 18-18 tie and then edged Orzubek Shayimov, an old Uzbek rival, 19-17 in the quarterfinals.
Darren O'Neill, Ireland's other Olympic hopeful, dropped an 18-9 decision to Japan's Ryota Murata in the 75kg quarterfinals.
The Paulstown BC star also won three straight before his bout with Murata.
The other members of Ireland's ten-man squad to Baku included 2008 Olympic medalists Paddy Barnes, a light flyweight who won a bronze in Beijing, and heavyweight Ken Egan, a silver medalist as a light heavyweight.
Lightweight David Oliver Joyce [St. Michael's Athy BC, Kildare], light welterweight Ray Moylette [St Anne's BC, Mayo], welterweight Roy Sheehan [St Michael's Athy BC], light heavyweight Joe Ward [Moate BC, Westmeath] and super heavyweight Con Sheehan [Clonmel BC, Tipperary] completed the squad.
Youngster Michael Conlon came one point short of a possible bronze medal in the 52kg division after a 25-24 loss to European champion Andrew Selby of Wales in the quarterfinals. From the St. John Bosco club of Belfast, he'll get another shot at glory in London.
Conlon, who's 19, won three fights on his path to the quarterfinals.
Middleweight Matthew Macklin, who's now based in New York, has reiterated his desire to challenge world champion Sergio Martinez on St. Patrick's Day.
"It's an easy fight to make, we're both promoted by Lou DiBella and I think it's a natural fight for Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick's Day next year," he said on Monday. "I don't think there would be a spare seat in the Garden, even thinking of the atmosphere at that fight gets me excited about it!"