DARREN O’NEILL BOWED out of the Olympics on Thursday afternoon as he was outthought and outpunched by Stefan Hartel of Germany.
With a place in the middleweight quarter-finals at stake Hartel opened up an early lead and never relented, winning 19-12 on the judges’ scorecards.
After four straight wins for Ireland in the ring, it was heartbreak for Paulstown’s O’Neill in the ExCeL Arena. Hartel advances to the last eight where he will fight home hope Anthony Ogogo of Team GB for an Olympic medal.
Fighting out of the blue corner it was the German who settled quickest, relying on a mix of solid defence and counter-punching to limit the damage O’Neill could do.
Hartel led 6-4 at the end of the first round and had stretched his advantage to six points by the end of the second, leaving O’Neill in need of a knockout if he was to have any chance of overturning a 14-8 deficit.
The explosive finale never materialised and Hartel was comfortably able to handle everything the Kilkenny fighter threw at him, winning the final round 5-4 for a seven-point victory.
He now faces Ogogo in Monday night’s quarter-final after the British fighter had the narrowest of wins against world champion and world number one Ievgen Khytrov of Ukraine.
With the scores level at 18-18 and again at 52-52 following a countback, the decision returned to the judges who awarded a huge upset to the Lowestoft fighter.