Murray left confounded by judges’ counting

The Great Eight were reduced the Magnificent Seven when Frankie Gavin gave up the battle of the bulge, and now it is down to the Super Six after bantamweight Joe Murray became the first British boxer to lose in the Olympic tournament.

But at least those hopefuls who remain know the score. And that is that they may not score if they come up against a Chinese.

Even Confucius himself was would have confounded by the computerised arithmetic of the five ringside judges who made China's Gu Yu a runaway 17-7 points winner over Murray, the world number three. It was not so much the result – the 21-year-old Mancunian certainly lost the fight - but the dubious early stacking of points against him which forced a change of tactics from countering Gu's quick-handed southpaw attacks to the desperate quest for a ko.

"I thought they were very generous to the Chinaman," said coach Terry Edwards. "Everything he touched they pressed the button for. Scores make a big difference in tactics and Joe's tactics had to be changed. For every point you are losing frustration creeps in and you are chasing the bout more than you want to. I'm not saying he won but the judges made him do things that weren't in the game plan.

Murray trailed by four points after the first round, six after the second and his cause was not helped by a third round knock-down which, he said, came more from more a push than a punch. "He caught me off balance and his arm slapped me on the side of the head."

It was second time he had lost to Gu in China but he also beat him last year in the world championships, coming back from 7-4 down. But this time the deficit was not recoverable. "The scoring was bad. They'd have given him points for anything, even if he only touched my stomach. All I could do was try for a knock-out."

The tall Murray is another weight-troubled fighter and like Gavin he has been using Ricky Hatton's diet guru Kerry Kayes. "I struggled like mad to get down the bantamweight limit," he admitted. "That was a fight on its own. This has been a big disappointment for me but it was my first Olympics and I can come back and move up a weight."

While the atmosphere in the Workers' Arena was not hostile it was certainly clamorous, with the crowd wildly applauding the points for their man as they accumulated on an illuminated scoreboard above the ring which flashed instructions when to cheer. Whether the judges were influenced by such home-town fervour is questionable, but the Ukrainians have already lodged a formal appeal against excessive scoring in favour of Chinese boxers. Edwards is not inclined to follow suit. "We're not whingers. But this is not a level playing field."

On Wednesday night 6ft 8in team captain David Price faces an even taller order against the super-heavyweight favourite, Russia's European champion Islam Timurziev, a stiuation he describes as all or nothing.

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