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Six GB boxers reach World championships quarter-finals

Frazer Clarke Olympic boxing rankings
Frazer Clarke lands on Maksim Babanin at the World championships in Russia GB Boxing
The latest from the World championships in Russia

GB flyweight Galal Yafai was dominant in his first bout at the Expo Arena in Ekaterinberg, Russia. He set about Alex Winwood as if the Australian had done something to offend him. He opened the first round slamming a hard southpaw left over and went straight after Winwood as he unleashed combinations of punches. Winwood had to retreat on to the backfoot as Yafai harried him.The Australian managed to uncork a right hook to the body but he was under pressure. A straight one-two slammed Winwood’s head back. He tried to fight back in the second round but Galal soon resumed control. He fought with tremendous energy, a right hook setting up his cross. That solid left knocked Winwood back. He continued to land with spite into the last round, a vicious right-left firing through the Australian’s defences. Winwood threw his hands just to keep Yafai off but he lost a clear unanimous decision.

To book his place in the quarter-finals Yafai scored a key win over experienced Cuban Yosvany Veitia, the reigning World champion, on Tuesday (September 17). The Birmingham man got his tactics right against fellow southpaw Veitia. Yafai moved in on his rival, looking to quickly close down the space between them. The Cuban’s footwork carried him smoothly from side to side as he let his jab catch Galal. Yafai however kept up a fearsome workrate. Shots pattered against Veitia’s guard before he brought a right hook into his body. Even when the Cuban held his ground, he still made Yafai miss plenty of punches, either taking them on his gloves or slipping clear. But Galal threw even more, breaking through notably in the last round as he connected with gusto, winning a unanimous decision and a slot among the last eight.

At 63kgs England’s Luke McCormack began his campaign with a walkover, once Italy’s Francesco Iozia was ruled out with an injury. McCormack’s first contest came against Panama’s Jonathan Miniel Murillo on Saturday (September 14). Luke worked well from range, looking to land his jab. He slung his left hook over before hitting a quality right cross in. McCormack continued to deploy his left, using the hook to counter Murillo.

Luke blocked a wide right hook and pressed in. He lashed his right through and forced Murillo to retreat. Eagerly he let his fists fly, his right landing flush to the chin and then to the top of Murillo’s head. He continued to creep further forward, starting to hurt the Panamanian. McCormack doubled his jab and cracked a left hook to the head. He finished powering in, winning a unanimous points decision.

But his tournament came to an end the last 16. Leonel De Los Santos, of the Dominican Republic, posed a tricky problem. Tall and rangy, the Pan American Games silver medallist got up on the balls of feet, whipping his right over the top before backpedalling swiftly. McCormack was the aggressor and began to find he mark with hefty right hands. McCormack tilted him away with his left hook but De Los Santos managed to snag him with long shots as the Englishman came in. De Los Santos grew in confidence as their bout progressed and edged McCormack out on a split decision.

Irish welterweight Aidan Walsh beat Israel’s Miroslav Kapuler Cishchenko in his first bout, scampering round him with hands low but spearing his right cross through to pocket a split decision. That set up his rematch with Britain’s European Games gold medallist Pat McCormack on Monday (September 16). The two had met before, in the final of the Commonwealth Games, with Pat, the twin brother of Luke, coming away victorious. The English welter repeated his win but this bout was far more competitive. Instead of retreating, Walsh came in aggressively, his jab looking for McCormack. Pat darted forward with a quick jab. He lined up a straight one-two and swept a right uppercut into Aidan’s body. He used a swift two-punch combination to counter Walsh.

The Irishman fired his right at McCormack’s trunk. McCormack strung together three straight punches, but Walsh responded, switching southpaw to land his one-two. He countered Pat with a left hook and reached for him with a long right cross. McCormack thumped a right uppercut in. He flicked out his jab, an accurate punch. The final round was close but the Briton had made sure of a split decision victory.

In the last 16 Pat unanimously outscored Georgia’s Lasha Guruli to reach the quarter-finals.

Frazer Clarke got his tournament underway on Monday too. He set out
after Serbia’s Vladan Babic with neat, technical combinations. He doubled his jab and let loose a cross after it. His jab landed and at once Frazer turned a left hook into the body. Clarke screwed a fine left uppercut through Babic’s guard but the Serbian plunged forward head-first. The two collided but it was Babic who suffered a cut by his right eye. Spurred into action the Serbian heaved his right over and began slinging wild punches at Frazer. These shots were getting through. Clarke had to steady himself, landing a jab and winging his right hook home.

Clarke targeted him again with his jab in the second round. Bowling his left up into the body appeared to hurt Babic. Clarke kept a better shape to his work. In the third round a right uppercut set up a left hook. Babic leant in close, still whaling punches manfully at the GB super-heavy. But again Frazer slammed in a quality uppercut, another power punch, and was a unanimous decision winner.

He then beat Frenchman Mourad Aliev, on a split decision, to reach the last eight.

English light-heavyweight Ben Whittaker won his opening bout on a split decision, outscoring veteran Iranian Olympian Ehsan Rouzbahani. He made sure of his next contest, a unanimous points win over Turkmenistan’s Nuryagdy Nuryadyyev, to book a spot in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool’s Peter McGrail, whose division has switched up a kilo from 56 to 57kgs, got off to a strong start, taking a dominant unanimous decision win over Korea’s Yechan Lee. His Irish rival Kurt Walker also began with a victory, when he outpointed Colombia’s Ceiber Avila Segura on a split decision. McGrail and Walker unanimously outpointed Azerbaijan’s Tayfur Aliyev and Canada’s Eric Basran to reach the quarter-finals.

England’s 91kgs Cheavon Clarke enjoyed a good beginning to his tournament, unanimously outscoring Belgian rival Victor Schelstraete. He weathered a hefty low blow in his next bout but outpointed Armenia’s Henrik Sargsyan to reach the quarter-final. Also at heavyweight Scotland’s Scott Forest and Ireland’s Kiril Afanasev lost their opening bouts in Russia. India’s Sanjeet Sanjeet edged out Forest on a split decision, while Bulgaria’s Radoslav Pantaleev, familiar to fans of the British Lionhearts for his appearance on their World Series of Boxing franchise, beat the Irish 91kgs on a split points decision.

Welsh boxers Sammy Lee and Mickey McDonagh came up against good level opponents early on in their World championships. In his first bout at 63kgs at a Worlds McDonagh met Canada’s Commonwealth Games light-welterweight silver medallist Thomas Blumenfeld on Thursday (September 12). McDonagh couldn’t quite seize control of the bout with the Canadian taking a unanimous decision.

After winning his opening contest, Sammy Lee went on to meet Russia’s Georgii Kushitashvili. He held the host nation boxer to a split decision on Sunday (September 15) but the defeat eliminated the promising light-heavyweight from the competition.

Irish 75kgs Michael Nevin also lost a split decision to a host nation boxer, Russia’s Gleb Bakshi taking the victory over him on Monday (September 16). On the Sunday Nevin had beaten Lithuania’s Vytautas Balsys, unanimously outscoring him.

Aldoms Suguro, of Indonesia, took a split decision win over Ireland’s Regan Daly at flyweight. Trinidad and Tobago’s Michael Alexander surprisingly secured a victory over Irish 63kgs Wayne Kelly on a split decision.

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  • Great to see Yafai, Frazer Clarke, Cheavon Clarke, McGrail, Whitaker & McCormack make the quarter finals, they are all good enough to go all the way.
    In terms of maintaining determination and dedication for the Olympics next year maybe not winning the gold wouldn’t be too bad an outcome for any of them.

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