Boxing: Team GB's Tom Stalker focuses on medal success amid rows


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The Independent Online

Tom Stalker is hoping to give a flawless performance in tonight's match so that he can avoid getting embroiled in the rows that are dogging boxing at the moment.

The British squad captain can join team-mates Luke Campbell, Anthony Ogogo, Anthony Joshua, Fred Evans and Nicola Adams as a guaranteed medallist if he beats Asian champion Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg, of Mongolia, in the ­quarter-finals of the light-welterweight division.

Evans’s name only made that roll of honour in the early hours of this morning, long after the 21-year-old welterweight’s hand had been raised by the referee to signify victory over Custio Clayton on countback after the two men were deemed to have drawn 14-14.

An angry Canadian team immediately filed a protest, claiming Evans had received a number of warnings which went unpunished by point deductions but it was rejected following a lengthy official review of the contest.

There would have been no cause for dispute had the judges not given the second round to Clayton by the absurd margin of 6-3 when, as in the first round which went 7-2 to Evans, he was clearly the more passive fighter.

But questionable judging had already been evident in the previous welterweight quarter-final which was given to bemused world champion and No1 seed Taras Shelestyuk, of the Ukraine, again on countback, following an 18-18 draw with France’s Alexis Vastine.

The verdict was greeted with jeers from the packed crowd inside the ExCeL Arena and after Vastine initially collapsed to the canvas in disbelief, the Beijing bronze medallist was led away in tears.

Stalker’s previous bout against Manoj Kumar, of India, had also been subject to wrangling with Kumar crying “Cheating, cheating, cheating” in the wake of a 20-16 decision in favour of the 28-year-old home boxer.

Now Stalker, the Commonwealth Games lightweight champion, knows he must impose himself properly in order to make the last four.

Team coach Paul Walmsley, who was in Stalker’s corner against Kumar, said: “Uranchimeg is certainly no mug. He has been around the block and he’s a seasoned campaigner.

“But so is Tom and you’ll see a different Tom this time out. Unless he wins every bout 100-0 then he’s never happy. He always wants perfection, which is a great asset.”

Amir Khan, winner of a silver medal at the Athens Olympics of 2004,  was ringside for the Evans bout and believes the Briton did enough to make the Canadian protest futile.

“Winning by countback is always close,” he said. “But I think Evans won because he was the braver fighter and the most pressurising fighter in the first two rounds.”

There could be no argument, however, over European flyweight champion Andrew Selby’s defeat against Robeisy Ramirez Carranza, a teenage Cuban who is likely to emerge a golden star of these and many future Olympic Games. The Pan-American champion proved to have a wise head on his young shoulders, piling up the points with early flurries before retreating behind a rock solid defence that Selby, for all his superior strength, could not penetrate.

For once, the score of 16-11 was a true reflection of what had occurred between the ropes.

Selby acknowledged: “He was the better man on the day. I threw more combinations and was letting my shots go but he was just getting me before I got my hands up.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better year and I wanted to top it off with a medal but it wasn’t my time.”