Boxing: Team GB's Fred Evans within reach of welterweight medal

 

Fred Evans pulled out one of the best final rounds of his career to claim a dramatic revenge victory over Lithuanian puncher Egidijus Kavaliauskas and move within one more win of a guaranteed Olympic welterweight medal.

Evans and his opponent were locked together at 5-5 after two rounds of an absorbing contest, but a spectacular finish saw the Welshman start with a succession of scoring rights and charge home for an ultimately comfortable 11-7 win.

Victory was doubly sweet for the 21-year-old Evans, who had been knocked down and stopped by Kavaliauskas in last year's World Championships in Baku, in the bout immediately following his qualification for the Games.

Evans, who started in a much more composed fashion than his wild and woolly first round win over Algeria's Ilyas Abbadi, said while that particular loss had not played on his mind, the danger posed by Kavaliauskas made him a good man to beat.

Evans said: "This was the main fight I wanted to get away but I didn't really think about what happened before. I knew I had the beating of him and that kind of pressure has never been an issue with me.

"Sunday was a big shock in terms of the atmosphere but I knew what to expect this time. If anything maybe I boxed too cagey in the first two rounds. Then I told myself I had to switch on and do what I had to do.

"Winning an Olympic medal has always been a dream of mine and now I'm one fight away from achieving it. I'm the youngest on our team and younger than most of my opponents too, and it just shows me how much talent I've got."

As on Sunday, Evans was roared to the ring by a boisterous home crowd rapidly warming to his all-action style. But their favourite was clearly wary of the Lithuanian's right hand and his caution allowed Kavaliauskas to edge into a one-point lead.

Evans pulled it back in the second as he began to find his range, landing a clean two-punch combination which backed the Lithuanian into the ropes, and a straight right on the bell to drag the score back level going into the last.

The third was a masterclass from the 21-year-old who started with a big right, landed two crisp, straight lefts and a chopping right which unbalanced his opponent. Countering superbly, Evans ultimately left little room for doubt on the judges' scorecards.

Suddenly Evans, who came to the Games relatively under the radar, finds himself one of the hottest boxing tickets in town. He will also have to get used to being a big medal favourite when he takes on Canada's Custio Clayton with a guaranteed medal at stake on Tuesday.

PA

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