Boxing: Team GB's Luke Campbell beats Jayn Parrinello in Olympic bantamweight boxing
Wednesday 01 August 2012
Luke Campbell shrugged off an attack of nerves to book his place in the last 16 of the Olympic bantamweight division with a difficult 11-9 win over tough Italian Jahyn Parrinello at ExCeL tonight.
Campbell admitted the experience of fighting in front of a raucous, 10,000 capacity crowd - including Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield - contributed to his Olympic debut being a little too close for comfort.
Campbell said: "It's the biggest event on the planet and my first fight in front of the kind of crowd that would make anyone nervous. It was just about keeping calm and now I've got the first one out of the way I'll get better.
"I always tell myself that I won't put pressure on myself and I'll enjoy the occasion, but you can't get away from the pressure - it's there. But I've never worked harder in my life than I have to get to this tournament."
The Hull fighter has matured into arguably Great Britain's best boxing gold medal prospect since he burst on to the international scene in 2008, when he became the nation's first European amateur champion in 47 years.
Injury and inconsistency briefly threatened to derail his push towards London, but Campbell rebounded to claim silver in last year's World Championships, beaten only by Cuban Lazaro Alvarez Estrada, whom he could meet in the London final.
Parrinello had the advantage of having already got his campaign up and running, having beaten Jonas Matheus of Namibia in a straightforward first-round clash on Sunday, in which he looked rugged and a little crude.
There were few other form lines to unduly concern Campbell - Parrinello, ranked 19th in the world, had been well beaten by Campbell's GB team-mate Gamal Yafai in the European Championships in 2010, and lost in the first round in Beijing.
But Campbell started slowly, allowing the Italian to dictate the early stages, although Campbell's success with straight lefts and rights through Parrinello's guard suggested he was a little unfortunate to only tie the first round 3-3.
Although a timely sharp left brought roars from the crowd, Campbell continued to struggle to find his range in the second, with the Italian looking a much improved fighter from the man who flailed through his first-round win.
But Campbell deserved to shade the round by two points to move into an 8-6 lead, and although he continued to ship occasional right hands from his lively opponent, the 24-year-old edged home to keep his medal hopes on track.
Next up for Campbell is his familiar foe Detelin Dalakliev, whom he will fight for a guaranteed medal on Sunday. Campbell beat Dalakliev to win his European title in 2008 and also knocked him out in the last eight of last year's World Championships.
Campbell added: "I beat him for the bronze medal at the Worlds but he is a tough operator and I've got to be on my game if I'm going to go out and beat him.
"I was sparring with him earlier this year in Sheffield but I'm improving all the time."
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