TO succeed in international boxing you need to have qualities that set you apart. In the case of Britain’s star performers at the World championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, Lauren Price has the speed to take on and take out the big middleweights. For Karris Artingstall, her single punch power is outstanding at 57kgs, the new Olympic weight class.
It’s exciting to see the British squad coming together ahead of next year’s Olympic qualifying events. Three GB boxers won medals at these World championships with light-flyweight Demie Jade Resztan joining her team-mates on the podium. But controversy, once again, unfolded behind closed doors in Russia with AIBA’s new appeals process.
Lauren Price reached the final on Sunday (October 13) and a rematch with the Nouchka Fontijn. The Welsh middleweight had beaten the Dutch boxer, an Olympic silver medallist, in the final of the European Games in June. But at first Price lost this bout, only for the result to be overturned on an extraordinary appeal.
The Netherlands’ Fontijn started out jabbing and looked for Price with combinations of straight punches. But the Welsh southpaw darted forward her own one-two and clattered into a clinch. Price landed her jab and quickly sidled clear of a riposte. Fontijn had some successes still, chopping down her left hook and firing her right after it, and she was announced the victor on a split decision.
Yet the drama carried on behind the scenes. GB Boxing, on behalf of the Welsh federation appealed. Not only was the appeal accepted but when it went to review panel the decision was reversed. The new appeals process benefited a GB boxer on this occasion but it mirrored the controversial manner Frazer Clarke had his quarter-final result reversed at the men’s World championships in Russia last month.
It seemed to me, and probably to most observers, that the Lauren Price did indeed deserve the decision in the final in the first place and deserved to win the World gold medal there and then. But the problem is with the way the new appeals process is being used. It was introduced to mitigate against real clangers, wildly wrong decisions that were obviously bad. It’s not supposed to be a tool to rescore tight fights. A result marked by the five judges from their different perspectives as it happened ought to stand if the fight is close. But after the Clarke controversy the precedent has been set for any team quite understandably to try to appeal any bout that might get through. In this instance Fontijn can feel rightly aggrieved that the final result was even allowed to go to the review board. She did not attend the medal ceremony afterwards.
These judging controversies however are not Lauren Price’s fault. She certainly boxed well throughout the competition, especially in the final and semi-final. In the semi-final Morocco’s Khadija Mardi towered over Price. But undaunted the Welsh boxer worked around the Moroccan’s long levers. She lashed her back hand over the top, evaded a wide right hook and punished Mardi with a countering one-two. It was a rough, scrappy contest at times but Price deservedly won a unanimous decision.
Lauren had beaten Indian middleweight Saweety to reach the quarter-finals. She took an at times awkward split decision victory over Saweety but was in good form by the time she took on Lithuania’s Iveta Lesinskyte in final eight. Price made use of her speed again, landing quick jabs, waiting, poised, before firing in her southpaw cross. She could settle into a rhythm and make sure of a unanimous decision, switching her stance and growing in confidence throughout the quarter-final.
“It all feels like a bit of a dream at the minute. I have dreamt of being world champion for most of my life, so to finally achieve it feels unreal,” Price said after the tournament. “It was a close fight and I did think I had won it with my work in the second and third rounds so once it went to review I thought there was a good chance it would go in my favour.
“It is definitely the high point of my career. I have got Commonwealth gold, European Games gold and World championship gold, so I just need to make sure I get the big one next year to complete the set.
“We have such a great team at GB Boxing and I just want to thank them all for all they have done for me. The coaches and all the staff out here have been amazing. They really believed in me today, so I just want to thank them for everything.”
In the featherweight semi-final Karriss Artingstall took on the Phillipinnes’ Nesthy Petecio. The Briton was much taller and sprang back from Petecio, applying her southpaw jab. Artingstall took the measure of her opponent, letting Petecio come to her while Nesthy struggled to reach Artingstall with her own lead.
Kariss threw a right hook off her jab. She was striking Petecio’s guard, while the latter let a big right hand cannon in. Artingstall cooly connected with her right. Although she wasn’t delivering the same explosive impact with her shots as she had earlier in the tournament, she was keeping the contest under control.
In the final round Petecio closed in to drum punches against Artingstall’s body. She unleashed a salvo of blows and managed to jolt Karriss’ head back with a left. Caught under attack on the ropes, Artingstall had to pivot clear. Petecio hunted after Artingstall, slinging hooks, and she did enough to convince the judges to give her a split decision. Artingstall looked stunned to see the result go against her and the GB team disagreed with the decision strongly enough to lodge an appeal. On that occasion however it was not accepted. Petecio went on to win the gold medal, beating Russia’s Liudmila Vorontsova on a split decision too.
In the 57kgs quarter-final Artingstall had contained belligerent Uzbek Yodgoroy Mirzaeva. Artingstall backed off, landing solid right jabs. Mirzaeva charged in and when she held Artingstall on the ropes the Uzbek hurled hooks round the Briton’s defences. The big, clean shots however came from Artingstall, clattering her left cross into Mirzaeva’s chin. Artingstall came through to take a unanimous decision and bag her first World championship medal.
Demie Jade Resztan had a rematch in her 48kgs semi-final. She had met Russia’s Ekaterina Paltceva in the European championships and again the Briton suffered a defeat. But Resztan still performed admirably against Paltceva in the Russian’s homeland. She kept a good shape to her boxing, jabbing into her fellow southpaw. She sent a left cross to the body. Paltceva responded with a quality cross to set up a right hook. She doubled up her jab but both boxers were fast and clever in their work. Resztan had to retreat from a one-two, judging the distance well. Paltceva came on strongly, only for Demie Resztan to fire back with a cross. In the third round the Russian landed a clear, straight back hand and connected with a solid jab. Resztan held her to a split decision but Paltceva was victorious.
Resztan had taken a split decision win over Italy’s Roberta Bonatti to win their 48kgs quarter-final.
Finishing with one gold and two bronze medals is an impressive tally for the GB team. Performance Director Rob McCracken said, “Lauren [Price] has been absolutely fantastic for the last two years and thoroughly deserves to be World champion. She has been getting better and better and winning the World championship is a fantastic reward for all of the hard work she has put in in the gym.”
He added, “This group of boxers is still relatively inexperienced so to come to a tournament as tough as the World Championships and leave with three medals is a fantastic performance. The boxers, coaches and all of the support staff should be very happy with what the team has achieved this last week.
“The squad is going in the right direction and the outlook is positive as we look towards the Olympic Games in less than a year.”
Scottish 64kgs Megan Reid had a good tournament to reach the final eight but China’s Dan Dou arrested her progress, beating Reid on a unanimous decision. At welterweight Chinese boxer Liu Yang had put Rosie Eccles out of the tournament when she received a unanimous points verdict in the preliminary stage.
Ireland’s Amy Broadhurst and Christina Desmond both missed out on reaching the medals. Broadhurst lost a unanimous decision to Finland’s top seeded Mira Potkonen. “Heartbreaking to bow out of the World championships right before a medal. It’s hard to take because all I’ve ever dreamed of is a World and Olympic medal and every single time I have lost at the quarter-final stage,” Broadhurst stated. “I stepped foot in the ring today for the second time in four weeks with probably the best in the world and I proved that I can box her and also stand toe to toe with her and trade.
“There are millions of boxers in the world and I made the top eight in the world at 22 years of age. With the ups come downs and one day I will be World champion. One day I will be an Olympic champion. Whether it be next year or 2028. I made a promise to myself when I was a little girl that I wouldn’t stop until I got there.”
At 69kgs Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli took a unanimous decision over Desmond. Christina had beaten Canada’s Myriam Da Silva Rondeau on a unanimous decision to reach this quarter-final. Broadhurst had progressed with unanimous points victory over Poland’s Aneta Rygielska. In the preliminary stages Russian 57kgs Liudmila Vorontsova eliminated Michaela Walsh on a split decision and Irish flyweight Ceire Smith lost a split decision to North Korea’s Chol Mi Pang.