SEMI-FINALS

ANTHONY Joshua, all 6ft 6ins of him, looked small against the tournament’s tallest boxer in the 6ft 8 1/2ins Ivan Dychko, but outboxed him for a 13-11 win and a place in the final, writes Daniel Herbert.

The scoring didn’t flatter the GB super-heavyweight. Jabbing well and forcing Dychko back, Joshua looked to have won the first – but it ended 4-4. It was still level after round two at 8-8, even though Joshua boxed cleverly behind his high guard as the Kazakh tried his lone danger shot, a long right cross.

Joshua put things beyond any doubt with a dominant last, pumping out the jab as Dychko tired and needed his bloody nose wiped twice.

An all-southpaw welterweight semi saw Fred Evans pull off the biggest win of his career, 11-10 over World champion Taras Shelestyuk. A Ukrainian appeal against the decision was rejected.

As in his previous Games bouts, Evans started well but this time he did not fade as before. For six minutes the Welshman moved nimbly and punched sharply to earn a three-point lead coming up for the last. Evans opened up with a good burst early on but although Shelestyuk did narrow the gap, at the final bell Evans was a narrow but worthy winner.

“My gameplan was exact. I started off to try to get the points up early then went back to what I do best, counter-punch him. I just carried it on for the full three rounds,” said Fred. “He started to open up more, swing a bit more, coming into my hands a little bit more. It was just a good fight for me.”

For once Luke Campbell faced an opponent taller than himself in Satoshi Shimizu, but the GB bantamweight showed the gulf in class as he took a 20-11 victory to reach the final.

Round-by-round scores of 5-2, 6-4 and 9-5 testified to the control exercised by the Hull stylist, who constantly beat Shimizu to the punch. The Japanese advanced throughout but was flatfooted and left gaps in his defences that Luke found little trouble piercing with crisp shots.

The Olympic adventure of Anthony Ogogo, which included eliminating the No. 1 seed Ievgen Khytrov, ended at the last four stage when Esquiva Falcao beat him 16-9. After an even first (3-3) the Brazilian southpaw got on top in round two (6-3) then really let the punches go in the last. Ogogo walked onto a crunching left that floored him then had to take a standing count after a barrage. Knowing he must have fallen well behind, the Lowestoft man went on the offensive but Esquiva Falcao was now able to back off and hold in a bid to preserve his lead.

“It’s not the one I wanted,” Ogogo said of his bronze medal. “It’s more about what the medal represents to me personally. The ordeals I’ve had to overcome, the adversity I’ve faced to get the medal. It means more to me than just a bronze medal. I’m disappointed. The German [Stefan Hartel] I beat in the previous round, he beat the Brazilian really convincingly two months ago.

“I had a tough draw, two tough bouts [against Khytrov and Hartel]. The Dominican [Junior Castillo] was a tough one for me mentally, being the first boxer in here. It drained my energy levels.

“All I want to do now is go home, be a good son to my mum, be a good brother to my sisters, be a good boyfriend to my girlfriend and absorb it. Let the dust settle and make a nice clear judgement on what I want to do with the rest of my life. It feels a bit odd because since I was 12 I always thought about becoming an Olympic champion and I’ve given everything. I fell short. I want to be the best in the world and it hasn’t happened here – I’m third or fourth best in the world.”

Irish bantamweight John Joe Nevin joined Campbell in the final by sensationally defeating World champion Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba 19-14. It was a tactical masterclass by the Irishman. Nevin backed off and moved around the ring, forcing Alvarez, a southpaw, to advance – something he clearly didn’t like doing. And John Joe used his faster hands to nail the taller Cuban with rights and left hooks.

Nevin led 5-3 after one, then 12-9 after the second round, when a left hook made Alvarez put a hand on the deck only for the referee to give no count. By the last Alvarez had run out of ideas as Nevin continued to beat him to the punch.

“I always said I am up there with the best in the world,” said John Joe. “I am getting better as I go along. I just believed I could beat the best in the world.”

The other Ireland v Cuba semi-final, at flyweight, went the way of the Caribbean island nation with Robeisy Ramirez proving too good for Michael Conlan.

Southpaw Ramirez showed fast hands and Conlan, who started as a portsider but later switched to orthodox and back, was too passive in the early going.

Leading 10-6 into the last, Ramirez upped the tempo to force a count on Conlan with a barrage and eventually run out a comfortable 20-10 victor. “He didn’t punch so hard. He was just sharp with his attacks. I was using a lot of energy as well.

“I threw a load of punches but I was just wasting them. They were hitting his gloves. I should have been waiting for my opportunities. I was just a bit eager. I really wanted to do well, as it’s my first Olympics,” Conlan reflected. “It’s tough. It’s a good experience. He threw some good shots and he always caught me clean. I hoped for gold but bronze will have to do.”

Irishman Paddy Barnes must be sick of the sight of Zou Shiming. When they met in the 48 kgs semi-finals four years ago in Beijing, Paddy was not credited with a single point compared to the 15 of the Chinese (who went on to win gold).

This time, in the new 49 kgs category, Barnes matched Zou at 15-15 only to lose on countback against an opponent who would once again win the Olympic title.

Mobile, switch-hitting Zou opened an 8-5 lead in the first but in round two Barnes began to get inside, where the Chinese would tie him up.

Trailing 11-8 coming up for the last, Paddy got stuck right in and pounded the body ferociously as Zou tried to run down the clock. But while the Belfastman levelled matters at 15-15, the countback went to Zou.

“A slow start,” rued Paddy. “I didn’t think he scored eight points in the first round. That cost me the fight. I thought I won the third by more than he won the first by. I could have won that fight. I gave it my all.

“Zou Shiming’s so good, he makes boxers look bad. That’s why he’s two-times Olympic champion. I came for a gold medal. I was so, so close.”

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