DAY NINE – AUGUST 5

HISTORY was made with women’s boxing being contested for the first time at an Olympic Games. Russian flyweight Elena Savelyeva won the first bout 12-9 over North Korea’s Kim Hye Song.

The USA and Great Britain engaged in a lightweight clash when Queen Underwood tackled Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas. Underwood maintained her aggression throughout, marching forward and catching Jonas with stern right hands. The English southpaw however began to shift the momentum, finding three-punch combinations and swivelling off a lead hook as Jonas opened up the space to move.

“I’ve come here to box first and foremost, anything else is a bonus. To make history, it’s something that no one else can ever take away from me. I’m really proud of myself. I just want to do my country proud,” said Natasha.

Indian sensation Mary Kom has moved up to 51 kgs for the Olympics. Her diminutive form suggested Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk could prevail through brute force alone. But Kom, with outstanding skill, cracked her southpaw right hook across the Pole’s jaw and, even when being driven back, would suddenly lunge her cross through Michalczuk’s guard to fend her off.

Britain and Ireland respectively have guaranteed medallists in Luke Campbell and John Joe Nevin, who both won their bantamweight quarter-finals. Even though Campbell performed well, his bout with Bulgaria’s Detelin Dalakliev became desperately close.

Luke had boxed aggressively and looked in clear control of the first round – yet he went back to his corner a point behind. He took it on in the second but even then had, for the judges, failed to pull ahead. The crowd willed him on in the last and Luke found more yet, lancing home salvoes of punches. The tension of the wait for the result was scarcely bearable but Campbell took it 16-15.

“I dreamed all my life for this, for one moment,” said Luke. “Getting a medal means everything to me.”

Nevin had to deal with Oscar Valdez. The Mexican, scuttling after him, zeroed his left hook on to John Joe’s chin. Nevin stayed on the outside, landing his counters flush. A left, ripped to his body in the last round, saw the Irishman drop but he anxiously pedalled out of further trouble, keeping his 19-13 win.

“He caught me with a cracker of a shot. It wasn’t a low blow, it was a perfect shot,” said the Irishman. “After the first, when it was five-all, I didn’t know what to make of it and I was extremely disappointed going into the second. I should have been up three or four shots.”

Despite the power punches Russia’s Artur Berterbiev knocked through Oleksandr Usyk’s guard, the Ukrainian took their heavyweight collision 17-13. That could decide the fate of the 91 kgs gold medal.

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