DAY FIVE – AUGUST 1

ONE touch can change everything. If Erislandy Savon had landed one more shot, one more jab, if he had scored one more point, Anthony Joshua, Britain’s great super-heavyweight hope, would have been out of the Olympic Games at the first stage.

Going into only the 40th bout of his career the 22-year-old had come under tremendous pressure against the nephew of three-time Olympic gold medallist, Cuban legend Felix Savon. Joshua simply had to keep his cool, far from easy with the 10,000 packing the ExCel arena bellowing for him. Erislandy is also the most mobile of the competitors in the super-heavyweight division at London 2012, with just the style to give Joshua a nightmarish evening.

Anthony advanced on Savon from the first bell, blasting out a right to open his account. He kept those fists up to shield himself from the Cuban’s fast hands. Erislandy would not stay in range, smoothly chopping down his right and turning in his lead hook to take himself away from Joshua. He mixed up the attack, leading with the right before landing his left.

Though the bigger man, Anthony’s footwork kept him only a few steps behind Savon, covering the space between them promptly. But Erislandy was performing in style, even with the weight of Joshua and the roar of the crowd bearing down on him.

The Briton had his successes and when his booming right caught Savon the impact was unmistakeable. He ducked and rolled out of shots but Erislandy’s relaxed movement remained unaffected. The Cuban fired in a cluster of head shots to make it a nervy wait for the result.

Joshua had it 17-16. It was fortunate – the individual judges’ scores dictated that if it had gone to countback Anthony would not have won. That does show the judges weren’t overly influenced by the home crowd. But the way the scoring system works, taking the three most similar scores for a boxer, then averaging them to produce the boxer’s result, favoured Joshua on this occasion. Computer scoring is not about how each individual judge compares one boxer to the other, in a round or over the contest, it’s solely about how many blows the judge sees landing.

“We were both taking shots,” Anthony said. “The atmosphere, the crowd just kept on pushing me to get that victory. Even though it’s your home crowd, when you’re in there you’re zoned in. It’s different to what you see on the outside. You’ve got to up it and up it. It’s always good to get your confidence up.

“In lower weights sometimes you take a shot and you don’t see it, but in heavyweight you see your head flying all over the place. If you get hurt you’re going to go down. Savon’s a good fighter, he gets his points and moves. You’ve just got to bide your time, not rush in and take another shot. I’ll recap and move on to the next one. The Olympics ain’t finished yet.”

Quality operators are lining up in his weight class. Germany’s Erik Pheiffer couldn’t deal with 6ft 9ins Kazakh Ivan Dychko, losing 14-4. Azerbaijan’s World champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov dispatched the Congo’s overmatched Meji Mwanba in the second round. Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle was in total control of Ecuador’s Ytalo Perea, though a powerful left hook rattled the Italian in the last Cammarelle took it 18-10.

British bantamweight Luke Campbell is normally so assured a performer that it was surprising to see him boxing hesitantly. Italy’s Jahyn Parinello was determined to make life as awkward as possible for the Hull southpaw. If British nerves were jangling after the first round, when they were still level on the scoreboard, Luke finally began to nudge ahead, lashing his left at Parinello when the Italian disengaged. Campbell whipped up a cheer with a one-two. The Italian launched his right hand before ducking in close but Luke had it 11-9.

“Did you see the crowd out there? It would make anyone nervous,” Campbell admitted. “It’s just about trying to keep calm. Now I’ve got the first one out the way I’ll get better throughout the tournament.

“I always told myself I wasn’t going to put pressure on myself and I was going to enjoy the occasion. You can’t get away from the pressure it’s there. I’d tried to keep cool and listen to what the coaches had to tell me. The first one’s always the hardest to get out of the way.”

Ireland’s John Joe Nevin, 56 kgs, maintained the quality of his work against Kanat Abutalipov. The Kazakh stood off at first but Nevin reeled him in, striking from the outside then gliding round the incoming punches, winning 15-10.

It was a day of destruction for the United States’ Olympic dreams. Bantamweight Joseph Diaz had the misfortune of meeting in his second bout Cuba’s world No. 1 Lazaro Alvarez. He closed in on him well pressing hard, though the classy Cuban carved out a 21-15 win.

Their heavyweight and super-heavyweight, Michael Hunter and Dominic Breazeale, were in deep with their Russian counterparts. Hunter performed surprisingly well against Artur Beterbiev, nosing ahead after the first round. But Hunter began to fade in the last, with the Russian cranking up the pressure a notch. Level 10-10, the countback went to Beterbiev, who didn’t look in his typical fearsome form.

Breazeale didn’t have the technical ability to keep up with Magomed Omarov. The Russian southpaw gave him a standing count in the first round. In the second he hammered Breazeale into a corner. Even when caught by a glancing blow, Omarov came back at him. An instant before the final bell Magomed’s cross crashed through to give the American a second standing count but at least Dominic had shown some grit to see out the three rounds.

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