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.

Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone