June 14 - Paddy Barnes (pictured), Ireland's newly-crowned European light flyweight champion, has promised to focus on winning the Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and not be distracted by offers to turn professional.

The 23-year-old from Belfast, who won the bronze medal in Beijing in 2008, produced a stunning performance in Moscow on Saturday (June 12) to defeat Azerbaijan's Elvin Mamishzade 4-1 to become the first Irishman for 19 years to win a European title.

Barnes said: "Some people might think that being European champion will put extra pressure on me going for London, but I don't see it that way.

"I've proved now that I can compete with the very best in the world.

"I proved it in Beijing and now I think I've proved it even more.

"Next year's World Championships in South Korea is the first of the qualifiers for the Olympics and that's my main target now.

"I knew going into the final that I had to close Mamishzade down, make sure not give him space to breathe, and I stuck to the game plan.

"I felt calm and in control all the way.

"He would come in and then move away and I would close him down and catch him.

"I could tell in the last round he was not really attacking and I was catching him with the shots - it was all about sticking to the tactics."

Ireland won five medals in Moscow, including a silver and three bronze, to finish second behind only host nation Russia in the medals table.

It was a remarkable rehabilitation for Barnes, who was sent home in disgrace last September from the World Championships in Milan and threatened with a five-year ban from the sport after reacting badly to his defeat against Kenya's Peter Mungai, including making an obscene hand justice.

Ireland's coach Billy Walsh said: "Paddy stuck to the gameplan.

"His defence was fantastic.

"It was a world class performance."

Related stories
June 2010:
 Joy for Paddy Barnes as British have to settle for silver lining
September 2009: Ulster want to help Barnes to stop him turning pro
September 2009: Irish Olympic medallist faces ban from London 2012 after being sent home