Pat McCormack held to Olympic silver medal by brilliant Cuban Roniel Iglesias

Pat McCormack
LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images
Pat McCormack takes silver as the GB boxing team records its largest medal haul since 1920

CUBA’S Roniel Iglesias took his performance to another level to hold Pat McCormack to an Olympic silver medal in the final of the welterweight competition at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on Tuesday (August 3).

Early in the first round they looked to establish their jabs. But Iglesias, a sharp southpaw, put his handspeed to work, landing a fast cross. He edged into the bout, striking the body and firing through a quick jab again. McCormack snapped his left hook across but needed to raise his output for the second round. However it was in that round that Iglesias made his breakthrough. A booming left hook caught McCormack’s chin. He lost his footing, falling to the canvas only for the ref to rule it as slip. Iglesias pressed that advantage through the rest of the round. McCormack opened up with his attacks in the last, knowing he had to win it big. His jab connected and he hammered at Iglesias with a right hook. He clubbed at the Cuban with the right again, but Iglesias absorbed it and provided the final flourish. A clean jab hit Pat and then a firm left cross landed flush, shaking through McCormack as he stepped back. Iglesias took a unanimous decision victory and McCormack is a silver medallist at these Olympic Games.

“I was up against a top fighter from Cuba. He’s an Olympic champion. I thought I’d won the first round but he just edged the second two,” Pat said. “I have got no complaints. I lost to a very, very good fighter. It is what it is, I am ready for the pro ranks now.

“I’m proud to be part of the team. We have broke all the records from the last squad and got the most medals here, so we’ll go down in history as one of the best teams ever.”

Galal Yafai worked so hard to overcome Cuba’s Yosbany Veitia in their 52kgs quarterfinal. Both southpaws, Veitia looked good when he could find space with his movement and pick out shots. So Yafai denied him room to breathe. He stayed close in the pocket and reeled off a stream of constant punches, breaking through to outwork and outhustle the gifted Cuban. The Briton sustained that all the way through to the end of the last round and took a split decision. He has earned an Olympic medal, guaranteeing himself at least bronze and GB six boxing medals overall, their largest tally in the Olympic boxing tournament since 1920.

“When I got beat by a Cuban at the last Olympics I said I needed to get revenge. I beat him [Veitia] in 2019 at the Worlds so I think he wanted a bit of revenge. But he couldn’t get it tonight,” Yafai said. “I knew I could beat him as I’ve beaten him before and I’ve proved people wrong who said I was going to lose to him.”

“It feels great to get a medal, the sixth one now for GB. I was rooming with Frazer [Clarke] and Ben [Whittaker] and Ben’s in the final and Frazer has got a bronze medal so I didn’t want to go home with nothing. I had to make sure I got a medal,” he added.

GB 60kgs Caroline Dubois came close to winning an Olympic medal at just 20 years of age. But Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee deployed clever tactics. The two southpaws stood off one another behind their jabs initially but as the bout progressed the Thai managed to shrug off Caroline’s right hook and fired through clean lefts of her own. She remained composed in the last round, her patience and accuracy making the difference as she edged the tactical battle to take a split decision win.

“I am so happy for the result because this is my dream,” Seesondee said afterwards. “This medal can change my life.”

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington guaranteed herself an Olympic medal when she advanced to the lightweight semi-finals. Harrington overcame a towering Imane Khelif, moving under the Algeria’s long shots to pop through her combinations. Harrington’s footwork helped her diffuse Khelif’s attacks and make sure of a unanimous decision win. “I just feel emotions. I feel very relieved and happy,” Harrington said. “Happy for the coaches here who have put the work in, with my club coach back home, happy for my friends and family in Ireland, just happy that I can give people back home something to celebrate.”

It was a good morning for America. Duke Ragan booked a place in the 57kgs final as he outpointed Ghana’s Samuel Takyi on a split decision. Keyshawn Davis is guaranteed an Olympic medal after finishing strongly against Gabil Mamedov, shaking him up in the last round as he gave the Russian a standing count and won a split decision.

Japanese featherweight Sena Irie unanimously outpointed the Philippines’ Nesthy Petecio in their final. Britain’s Karriss Artingstall collected her bronze medal at the medal ceremony. She will now focus on the next Olympics. Artingstall said, “I’m going to go to Paris. I want to turn pro at some point, the pro game I’m just not ready for it at the minute. I want to tick all the boxes off as an amateur. I’ve got a World medal, European medal, now an Olympic medal. I need a Commonwealth medal and a European Games medal and then I’ll be making my way over to the pro scene.”

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