Boxing: Fred Evans leads Team GB gold rush
Great Britain continued what could be their best boxing tournament in modern times.
Twenty-four hours after Nicola Adams became the first women’s champion in Olympic history, three of her male teammates won their semi-finals.
First up was Luke Campbell, a bantamweight silver medallist at the world championships last year, who found himself up against an awkward opponent in Satoshi Shimizu of Japan.
After winning a messy opening round 5-2, Campbell got going in the second with a couple of thumping lefts and then had the stamina to see out the final round for 20-11 win. "I felt like I was getting through with the cleaner shots, although he was more awkward than he looked and came to win," Campbell said.
The home fighters have had tremendous support at the ExCeL Arena but it will be a more divided house when Campbell meets Ireland's John Joe Nevin in the final.
Campbell, who beat Nevin on countback in the semi-finals of those world championships, said: "He’s the same fighter as he was then, he hasn't changed, I haven't changed. But I feel as though I'm getting better."
Fred Evans, the welterweight, earned his shot at gold when he beat Ukrainian Taras Shelestyuk in their semi-final. A match-up like this, against the No.1 seed and world champion, should have made for a great final but, despite being European champion and world No.2, Evans was not seeded.
He showed the folly of that as he won the first two rounds – 4-1 and 8-5 – as he had Shelestyuk chasing shadows at times while the Welshman caught him with some slick combinations and neat movement.
Shelestyuk caught up with Evans – on the scorecards at least – as the Briton won the bout 11-10. What may be a greater worry is whether the extra bout that Evans was forced to fight will catch up with him when he meets Serik Sapiyev, the two-time world champion from Kazakhstan, who beat Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy 18-12.
Evans had almost thrown it away in his quarter-final against Canadian Custio Clayton but said of this bout: "I had a game plan and had a point to prove. I stuck to the game plan and I knew I had to be on top form and couldn't switch off. As soon as the bell goes and you hear the crowd it gives you a lift. The support is unbelievable."
Anthony Joshua was never likely to lack for support. The story of the 22-year-old super-heavyweight from Finchley is one that might have Olympic gold written all over it.
He had almost lost his chance to compete due to a shoulder injury which required surgery and then faced agonising decision over whether to pull out when his mother, Teresa, suffered a brain suffered a brain haemorrhage seven weeks ago.
But boxing deal in facts, usually of the brutal variety, and the first that Joshua had to face was that, even at 6ft 6in, he was the best part of three inches shorter than his Kazakhstan opponent, Ivan Dychko.
After an even first round, at 4-4, Joshua dominated the first two minutes of the second but then gave it away in the last 60 seconds to leave the contest balanced at 8-8.
Amateur boxing may be designed to reward skill but a little old-fashioned grit can be a bit handy as well and Joshua went after Dychko in the final three minutes, a left jab bloodying his opponent’s nose and a left hook and right uppercut helped edge the Briton to the final with a 13-11 victory.
There Joshua will face Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle, the defending champion, who beat Magomedrasul Medzhidov, of Azerbaijan, 12-13.
Joshua won the contest when they met in the world championships last year and said: “I’ll be ready for the Italian in Sunday's final. I'm buzzing but I have to ride the steady rollercoaster."
Amid this tide of euphoria, Anthony Ogogo, the middleweight who beat world champion Ievgen Khytrov in the second round, was outgunned 16-9 by Brazilian Falcao Florentino.
Today at the Games
Bahamas beat United States in men’s 4x400 metres relay
Lutalo Muhammad clinches bronze medal
GB women win bronze medal
Two silvers in 470 class
More Olympic heartache for Shanaze Reade
Tom Daley through to first round
Ed McKeever books place in Saturday's final
Russia make men’s volleyball final
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