TEN members of the GB Boxing squad earned semi-final victories to reach the finals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, whilst six others ended their competitions with bronze.
England’s Demie-Jade Resztan, Kiaran MacDonald, Gemma Richardson, Lewis Williams and Delicious Orie, Wales’ Ioan Croft, Rosie Eccles and Taylor Bevan and Scotland’s Reese Lynch and Sam Hickey will box for gold in their respective finals tomorrow.
In the case of Savannah Stubley, Lewis Richardson and Aaron Bowen of England, Jake Dodd and Garan Croft of Wales, and Scotland’s Tyler Jolly defeats mean they will have to settle for bronze.
Demie-Jade Resztan became the first member of the squad to reach tomorrow’s final after she dominated Botswana’s Lethabo Modukanele across all three rounds to guarantee herself a minimumweight silver medal.
She will now go for gold against India’s Nitu Nitu at 10.30am.
Resztan said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. I couldn’t be any happier. I was really pleased with my performance, and I felt I dominated a really good opponent.
“I’ll have a look at my opponent in the final. We will look at her on video in the morning and I’ll analyse her, but I have got to take my skills into the final and not concern myself with hers.”
Following shortly after was men’s flyweight action. In the first of four bouts involving all GB Boxers, Kiaran MacDonald England and Jake Dodd entered the ring against each other.
On this occasion, it was 25-year-old MacDonald who came out on top, stopping Dodd in the third round of their semi-final clash.
The Sunderland boxer at 10.45 tomorrow will face India’s Amit whilst the Welshman will leave the competition with bronze.
MacDonald said: “Jake is a mate of mine outside the ring, but in there it was down to business, and I had to put that to one side. I had to make sure I got the job done.
“We knew what he was going to bring. He is an intense, pressure-fighter. He was going to come at me in spurts and I had to deal with it, using my feet and my accuracy.
“It’s unbelievable that I am now in a Commonwealth Games final. I have got to stay strong, stay positive and finish this off because I know I will win it if I do.”
Up next was Wales’ Rosie Eccles. In a confident display, Eccles eased her way into her second Commonwealth Games final following her silver medal in 2018.
She will be looking to go one better and make it gold when she goes up against Australia’s Kaye Scott at 11.15 in the women’s light-middleweight final.
Eccles said: “It’s crazy really. It’s what we came here for, and I’ll be disappointed with anything other than a gold this time but it’s checkpoints and it’s massive to get to this point today and this time tomorrow I’ll hopefully have that medal.
“It’s how you prepare going into these things. I was 21 years old on the Gold Coast in 2018 and I’ve been round the block a bit since then. I go into things calmer now and aware of the game plan and I know how to adapt if things aren’t going my way.
“Winning gold would be massive. I’ve got my family here and my coaches from back home and Colin Jones (Wales Head Coach) has been through it all with the Welsh team so to be on the podium and here my national – it’s the dream!”
Soon followed a men’s middleweight bout which saw two more GB Boxers go head-to-head, this time in a repeat of the European championships semi-final, as England’s Lewis Richardson and Scotland’s Sam Hickey met once again.
Last month in Armenia it was Richardson who got the decision but this time it was Hickey who progressed to the final after the referee called a halt to the bout in the second round.
Richardson will take bronze whilst Hickey will take on Australia’s Callum Peters at 11.45.
Hickey said: “Respect to Lewis, he’s a top-class fighter. We’ve got a great rivalry going on and I was just the better man on the day, as he was last time out, and I’m sure he’ll come back, and we’ll get it on again at some point.
“I’ve been around. I’ve got all the experience. I’ve took a lot from the three fights I’ve had here and I’m ready to show that tomorrow and get that gold – which is what I came here to do.”
In the final action of the day’s morning session, once again GB boxers met as Aaron Bowen faced Taylor Bevan.
It was bout worthy of the occasion with both men giving their all across the three round, trading heavy shots throughout but it was Bevan who was crowned victor via unanimous decision in his fourth outing of the competition.
Whilst Bowen takes bronze, Bevan will go for gold at 12.15 tomorrow against Sean Lazzerini of Scotland.
Bevan said: “I’m buzzing to be in the final. It was a brilliant fight with Aaron. It was really close as I expected it to be and full respect to him. We came to win and we did it.
“My first three fights were quite comfortable ones which I feel I performed well in with the two stoppages and then outboxing my opponent last time out and then today I had to dig deep and that gives me confidence for tomorrow.
“Winning gold would be massive. It’s what I’ve always set out to do coming here and I think I can get it done.”
Scunthorpe’s Gemma Richardson continued her impressive tournament in the lightweight contest as she beat India’s Jaismine Jaismine via split decision in a scrappy affair.
With a silver medal in the bag thanks to her third victory in Birmingham, at 16:15 she will take on the current World champion, Amy Broadhurst of Northern Ireland.
Richardson said: “I’m just so happy on beating a tricky opponent. You could not ask for any more than that.
“I am always critical of my own performance. There are always flaws even when you give a stunning performance. That’s why we are at the top level.
“The fight was always going to be messy. But sometimes you have just got to accept that and get through.”
“I boxed sensibly in my first two fights and there is still plenty of gas in the tank. I’m absolutely buzzing to be in the final.
“I’m guaranteed a silver, but gold is the only colour that will be good enough for me. I’ve got to listen to my coaches and give it all for one last time.”
Light-welterweight Reese Lynch put in yet another memorable performance to seal his place in tomorrow’s final.
His victory via unanimous decision against an impressive Wyatt Sanford of Canada sets up a tie with Mauritius’ Louis Richardo Colin at 15.15.
Lynch said: “It was tough. I know I made it look like it wasn’t! But he’s a brilliant boxer. You could feel his strength in there so I had to keep moving but I enjoyed myself in there.
“I can’t wait to get in there tomorrow and take away that gold medal. It’s been a long few weeks so it will be good to feel that medal round my neck.
“It’s great to have my brothers here, my dad, friends and my mum as well who has managed to get time off work as she works in the hospital so she didn’t think she’d make it so it makes today even more special.”
Lewis Williams was the final GB Boxer to compete this afternoon. After ending his last bout inside the first round, on this occasion his bout with Australia’s Edgardo Coumi lasted the distance – with Williams once again on the winning side, this time via unanimous decision.
To claim the gold medal tomorrow, he will have to beat Samoa’s Ato Leau Plodzicki-Faoagali at 16:45
Williams said: ““I’ve sparred him before, and I knew what he was about. I just followed the instructions of the coaches and kept it under control.
“There was no need to rush into anything and get caught off guard.
“It’s not just this tournament, everything has built up to now and gone to plan in training. I’ll hit the ice bath and stretch tonight.”
“The plan was always to get to the final and I always expected to, but I couldn’t get ahead of myself and say I deserved to be there, I had to work for it.
“I’m excited and we are going to get gold with a nice big crowd for me.”
In the final of the four all GB bouts, Ioan Croft of Wales and Tyler Jolly of Scotland met in the evening session
It was a fiercely contested bout between the two welterweights with the scores level on four of the judges’ cards going into the third round but in the end, it was the Welshman who came out on top via a 4:1 split.
Whilst Jolly settles for bronze, Croft will face Stephen Zima of Zambia at 19.45.
Croft said: “It was unbelievable. I’ve never been in a fight like that before. He had lots of supporters and so did I so it made for a good contest.
“Hopefully me getting in there has inspired a few people and shown that anybody can do this. Everyone back home has been amazing, and we go again for the gold in less than 24 hours!”
In the concluding bout of semi-final action, it was time for the super-heavyweights and boxing for the second time this tournament, Delicious Orie took on New Zealand’s Leuila Mau’u.
The 24-year-old put in another confident display as he eased his way into tomorrow’s final at 20.45, where he will look to get the better of India’s Sagar Sagar.
Orie said: ““He was very tough in there, I had to be very smart as I knew I was coming up against a world-class operator. I knew he was a hard puncher and I had to be clinical and careful, which I was. I listened to my coaches and got the result.”
“I believed in myself before entering the Commonwealth Games, I believe in my skills and my coaches. I didn’t watch his [Sagar’s] fight but I’ll make sure I do my job and get the win.
“I heard everything, and I soaked it in. This is how I know I’m made for this game. I can’t wait to be doing this for the British public for the rest of my career.
“Anthony Joshua was my inspiration and I made it a reality from when I started. I manifested it and here we are today.
“That’s the message I’m putting out. It’s my turn now, the baton has been passed and I want to do the same thing. Don’t listen to people that put you down, just go out there and achieve it.”
Savannah Stubley and Garan Croft were also in action on semi-finals day. Stubley faced a tough test against the reigning champion, Zareen Nikhat.
Despite a solid performance, the Indian boxer demonstrated her class, beating the England boxer via unanimous decision to end her Games with bronze.
For Croft, he found himself on the wrong side of a cagey 4:1 split against Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Aidan Walsh, meaning he too leaves the competition with bronze.