Paddy Barnes will open his account at the 2012 London Olympics against the experienced Thomas Essomba of Cameroon on Saturday.

Essomba beat Abdelali Darra of Morocco 13-10 this afternoon to set up the weekend’s last-16 clash with the Belfast light-flyweight.

Barnes, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics – Essomba also represented his country at the 2008 Games – received a bye into the last-16.

Michael Conlan, who also received a bye, also faces an African opponent in the last-16.

The Belfast light-flyweight meets Ghana’s Duke Akueth Micah on Friday evening. Micha saw off the challenge of Jason Olivier Lavigilante (Mauritius) on an 18-14 decision on Monday night.

John Joe Nevin is the next Irish boxer in action. The two-time AIBA World medallist meets Kanat Abutalipov of Kazakhstan in the bantamweight class on Wednesday afternoon.

The Nevin versus Abutalipov 56kg duel is a repeat of the 2009 AIBA President’s Cup semi-final in Baku, Azerbaijan which Nevin won 15-2. 

Irish team captain Darren O’Neill is in action on Thursday, followed by his fellow southpaw and Irish team-mate Adam Nolan, and Conlan, on Friday.

Katie Taylor makes her Olympic debut against either Great Britain’s Natasha Jonas or America’s Queen Underwood at approximately 1.30pm on Monday next.

Liverpool-born southpaw Jonas and Seattle-native Underwood clash on Sunday afternoon.

Elsewhere today, Puerto Rico's Jantony Ortiz Marcano is eager to continue his island's fine boxing tradition after moving into the last 16 of the light-flyweight category with a 20-6 win over Ghana's Tetteh Sulemanu.

Steeped in the stories of fighters like the great Felix Trinidad and two-weight world champion Daniel Santos, the last Puerto Rican boxer to win an Olympic medal in 1996, the nation's young team is targeting further glory.

Marcano, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week, is one of four teenagers in the five-man Puerto Rican squad. The team's fifth member, middleweight Enrique Collazo, has already been knocked out of the tournament.

Puerto Rico coach Jose Laureano said: "This is a very special group who started boxing very early, before the age of 10. We took them to the qualifiers and we surprised people by having so many of them reach London.

"Boxing is the biggest sport on the island, and the only sport in which Puerto Rico has won Olympic medals. We have had over 55 world champions, and these boys see greats like Trinidad and Santos, and they want to be like them."

Marcano certainly relished his Olympic debut, arriving in the ring with a huge smile on his face and proceeding to showcase a series of flashy moves as he took apart his game but limited opponent, establishing an 8-1 lead within three minutes.

Marcano said: "I was smiling going into the ring and coming out of the ring because that is how I feel and I don't want to change anything. I told my corner they had to keep smiling too. I fought well and I have a lot more to come."

Spain's world number seven Jose de la Nieve Linares was surprised 14-11 by Carlos Quipo Pilataxi of Ecuador. The veteran Spaniard paid the price for a sluggish first round and struggled to match his opponent's workrate.

In the light-flyweight division, Cuba's Yosbany Veitia Soto scored the biggest win in the competition so far as he outclassed Australia's Billy Ward 26-4. Filipino Mark Barriga also looked strong in a 17-7 win over Italy's Manuel Cappai.

At light-welterweight, India's Manoj Kumar set up a last 16 meeting with Great Britain's Thomas Stalker after pulling away from Serdar Hudayberdiyev in the final two rounds to record a 13-7 victory.