Boxing: Fred Evans endures countback farce before reaching semis

 

The ExCeL Centre

Great Britain's Fred Evans is in the semi-finals of the welterweight division after a bizarre countback win over Custio Clayton last night in front of a bemused crowd here.

Evans appeared to have won all three rounds against the Canadian but at the end of the contest the men at ringside returned an 18-18 verdict, which means that the countback system kicked in and thankfully Evans was given the nod.

It was not even remotely competitive for two rounds, with Evans floating between lead punches and generally doing exactly what he liked. Clayton, who is an entertaining slugger, played his part and made the last round exciting to watch, which also delighted the crowd. However, a decision in his favour would have been a travesty.

"It was scary waiting for the countback score to come," said Evans. "This is the dream and I'm loving every second of it and that crowd is quite amazing. I just love every single second of it."

Earlier in the evening session Andrew Selby lost on points to the brilliant Cuban Robeisy Ramirez by a score of 16-11 in one of the flyweight quarter-finals.

Selby never found any space and hit away at Ramirez's arms and hands far too often as the fight followed a simple and relaxed pattern for the Cuban. Ramirez, who is just 18, looked and moved and failed to smile like the great Cubans from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties; since then so many of their best have defected and in Beijing the once great boxing nation failed to win a gold medal.

Selby dropped the first round 4-5, the second ended 7-12 against him and in the last he did keep it respectable to finish a loser by a score of 16 -11. "It was just not my night, no excuses," said Selby, who last year lost in the World Championship flyweight final and won a European title. "It's not over for me, not yet."

The last British quarter-finalist is Tommy Stalker, the light-welterweight from Liverpool, and he fights Mongolia's Munkh Uranchimeg today. If Stalker wins, the GB medal haul will be a guaranteed six, which is a quality return from a squad of 10 and would be Britain's best total since 1920.

Stalker has been spending a lot of time with Lennox Lewis at the boxing venue discussing tactics for fights. Lewis has been telling all of the British boxers to relax more, ignore the crowd and at the same time keep the pressure on. In Stalker he has found a willing and eager set of ears.

Stalker was not a boxer when he was a young kid and he never threw a legal punch until he was 19, but his redemption from youthful misadventures in Liverpool to captain of Britain's boxing team at the Olympics has been rapid.

"I told him not to fight to the crowd but to just take care of business in the ring with the man in front of you," said Lewis, who failed to win a medal at his first Olympics before taking gold four years later in 1988.

Also today, Nicola Adams fights India's Mary Kom in a flyweight semi-final and a rematch of their clash at the World Championships in China earlier this year. Adams has lost in three World finals and Kom has won five titles, but Adams is convinced that she can win again. "I have beaten her, I know her and I will beat her in front of that incredible crowd."

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