After 10 days of action in the ring Down Under, the Commonwealth Games have drawn to a close, with much success for British boxers. Like last time, England finished on top of the medal table with 6 golds, with Wales winning two, and medals galore for Northern Ireland. Scotland did not have the best of times, yet still picked up a pair of bronzes.
Galal Yafai was one of the more impressive fighters at the event. The Birmingham 49kg fighter breezed through his semi-final and then later became the first of his successful boxing family to win a major international title. His final opponent Amit Panghal gave a decent account of himself, but ultimately a 3-1 decision was perhaps a little flattering for the Indian, with Yafai’s aggression proving too much on this occasion.
The first of 6 silver medalists for Northern Ireland came in the 52kg division, in the shape of Brendan Irvine. In his semi-final, he overcame Scot Reece McFadden via a controversial 4-1 judge’s decision win, although came up short in the final against Gaurav Solanki of India by the same scoreline.
This result was matched by countryman Kurt Walker at 56kg. A 3-2 semi-final defeat of Eric Basran was rewarded by a final spot, but Liverpool’s Peter McGrail showed yet again why he is one of the world’s best at the weight as he displayed his excellent footwork to add Commonwealth gold to the European title he won in Ukraine last year.
Wales’ Michael McDonagh and NI’s James McGivern ultimately had to settle for 60kg bronze after close defeats in their semi-finals. The final between Aussie Harry Garside and Indian Manish Kaushik was equally tight, with the home fighter eventually prevailing by the slimmest of margins.
The 64kg tournament proved to be one of the most competitive in the entire programme. In a high-quality contest, Luke McCormack lost out in his semi-final, the aggression of tall Namibian Junias Jonas proving decisive on three of the five judges’ scorecards. Jonas went on to record a dominant win in the final against brave Canadian Thomas Blumenfeld to go one better than his efforts in Glasgow four years ago.
Luke’s twin brother Pat fared better at 69kg as he earned a first senior international title. The 22-year old was impressive, as he secured comfortable victories against high-class opponents in Manoj Kumar and Aidan Walsh, and will be hoping to bring this kind of form to the global stage in the coming years.
The 75kg tournament saw two British fighters emerge with bronze medals, as neither NI’s Steven Donnelly nor John Docherty of Scotland had enough to beat Vikas Krishnan Yadav and Wilfried Ntsengue respectively. In the final, it was India’s Yadav who came out on top as he added Commonwealth glory to the Asian Games gold he won eight years ago.
It was an exciting ride at 81kg as Sammy Lee struck gold, overcoming home fighter Clay Waterman along the way as well as beating Samoa’s Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali in the final. The young Welshman certainly looked very raw and easy to hit at times, but at only 19 years of age, he has plenty of time to develop.
Prodigious Kiwi talent David Nyika added 91kg gold to the 81kg title he won four years ago, outpointing trans-Tasman rival Jason Whateley in the final. He certainly didn’t have it all his own way in the tournament, especially in the semi-final where England’s Cheavon Clarke gave him all he could handle before he secured a unanimous points win.
Teammate and namesake Frazer had better luck against New Zealand opposition along the way to striking gold at +91kg. A 3-2 points win over Patrick Mailata in the semi-final was followed up by another competitive fight in the final, against Satish Kumar, a 5-0 verdict perhaps not representative of the Indian’s efforts.
In the women’s events, Mary Kom finally got her hands on Commonwealth gold as she swept all before her at 48kg, including Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara in the final. At 35, she will be hoping for one last push towards the Tokyo Olympics as she looks to win the one championship which has eluded her thus far.
Carly McNaul matched the feat of teammate O’Hara, coming up short at 51kg against experienced opposition in Lisa Whiteside, as the Englishwoman struck gold for the first time in an international event since 2013. Whiteside will also be looking to Tokyo as she eyes an Olympic medal to complete a career set.
It was yet another silver for Northern Ireland, as Michaela Walsh succumbed to a 3-2 decision loss against Australia’s Skye Nicholson in the 57kg division. Walsh was inconsolable after the verdict was read, adamant that she won the fight, although the lack of action made it a difficult fight to score.
There was more glory for the home team at 60kg, as Anja Stridsman secured a unanimous points win over Paige Murney, who had previously earned a hard-fought win over Nigeria’s Yetunde Odunuga in her last 4 clash. The English fighter can hold her head high however, for at 23, she surely has many championships to come.
The 69kg event was possibly the highlight of the women’s programme, as Sandy Ryan secured a 3-2 decision win over Welsh opponent Rosie Eccles in a fight which could easily have gone the other way. Wales were on the right side of the scorecards in the 75kg division however, as Lauren Price earned a 4-1 decision win against Australian Caitlin Parker.