Boxing: Fallon can apply mat finish if eyes hold out

Blond bomber ready to grab Britain's first medal but cuts could ruin dream

The weight-worried world amateur boxing champion Frankie Gavin has called in Ricky Hatton's diet guru Kerry Kayes to assist in perhaps the biggest battle he will face in his quest to strike gold in the Beijing ring – making the 9st 8lb limit.

A fellow Midlander also hoping to win an Olympic title in unarmed combat, judo's Craig Fallon, would do well to employ another of the Hitman's henchmen, Mick "The Rub" Williamson, the London cabbie renowned as the best cuts man in the business.

For while "Funtime Frankie", the Brummie lightweight who is favourite to go one better than Amir Khan, struggles with the scales, the 25-year-old Fallon, from Wolverhampton, is susceptible to another of Hatton's boxing bugbears, cut eyes. His style is such that there are often head clashes, and he seems to have the same sort of fragile eyebrows as Hatton and Henry Cooper before him, another of boxing's great "bleeders".

The bones around his eyebrows are quite prominent and it is not unusual to see him finish a contest with his head swathed in bandages. His last major appearance was in the recent German Open when he fought in a category above his normal bantamweight (under-60kg) limit, but had to withdraw with eye problems.

In judo, as in boxing, fighters can continue with a cut unless a doctor or referee decrees otherwise. But the bout is stopped if the wound continues to bleed after treatment. This is where Williamson, the pugilistic paramedic who is a dab hand at stemming the blood with a swabstick and adrenalin solution, could be a saviour.

Dodgy minces apart, Fallon goes to Beijing with a considerable weight of expectation on his shoulders. A former world champion, he is the star performer of Britain's seven-strong judo squad (four men, three women), a blond, blue-eyed golden boy of a sport which needs to pick itself up off the Olympic mat after Athens, where Britain failed to secure a single medal.

There had been high hopes then that Fallon might lead a pace-setting British gold rush on the opening day of the Games, as cyclist Jason Queally did in Sydney four years before, but instead it was a case of first in and first out. Fallon, well ahead on points, was thrown on his back when caught by boxing's equivalent of a sucker punch in an uncharacteristic lapse of concentration.

This time it is again Fallon who is deployed to set the Olympic ball rolling, seeking Britain's first medal of the Games. Is he up for it? There may be similarities with Hatton, but an extrovert persona is not one of them. Fallon is no stand-up comic, preferring to let his harai-goshis and seoi-nagis (hip and shoulder throws) do the talking. "Of course I'm looking for a medal," he says. "I learned a lot from that defeat. When I'm fit, nothing can stop me." And those cut eyes? "Sure, I've had a few, but they don't put me off. It's something I live with."

Fallon is currently ranked seventh in the world. "There isn't much difference between the top six or seven. Who wins depends on who performs best on the day, or who makes a mistake. If you had a competition everyday with the same top people, there would befour different winners." SoFallon hopes that Saturday 9 August will be his day.

In 2003 he won a world silver medal and two years later, after the Athensdefeat, became only the third Briton to reign as a world judo champion, following this with the European title to become the first British male since Neil Adams to hold world and European titles at the same time. However, he has suffered a series of injuries, missing the last World Championships, and he also made an early exit in this year's Europeans.

While Fallon is the leading candidate for a top pod-ium place, the Scottish middleweight Euan Burton, a world and European bronze medallist, and the female heavyweight Karina Bryant – she is approaching 17st – are also strong medal hopes. Both are 29. Another potential medallist is Peter Cousins, 27, who in 2005 was the first British athlete to miss three drugs tests, and was initially banned from the Games for life by the British Olympic Association. But, like Christine Ohuruogu, he appealed successfully. He is a World Championships silver medallist.

Britain have never won Olympic gold but have 16 medals, including six silver, since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1964. After the disappointment of Athens, an administrative shake-up has placed two tough women, Margaret Hicks and Karen Roberts, in control of the performance side of the sport.

And for the first time squad members will be able to take their own sparring partners with them. No doubt Fallon will wish he could have Mick the Rub to keep an eye on him, too.

Life and times

Born: 16 December 1982, Wolverhampton.

Height: 5ft 5in.

Weight: 9st 5lb (60kg)

Category: Bantamweight (under-60kg class)

Achievements: Commonwealth Games gold medal (Manchester 2002); World Championships gold(Cairo 2005); European Championships gold(Finland 2006); World Cup gold (Birmingham, 2007). Only the third Britishjudoka to win a world title.

Previous Olympics: Athens 2004. Having been one of the pre-tournament favourites, he was unexpectedly eliminatedin the first round.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup