The Boxing Road to Tokyo Olympic European qualifier has been suspended following the last bout of the day on Monday. For more information, please read the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF)’s statement on the suspension here.
It was an extremely long day in London’s Copper Box Arena, and there was a strange feeling in the air as all the fights took place behind closed doors. But the action did play out as scheduled – 55 bouts across five weight categories: women’s fly (48 – 51kg), men’s fly (48 – 52kg), men’s feather (52 – 57 kg), men’s welter (63 – 69kg) and men’s middle (69 – 75kg).
The first bout of the day, in the women’s fly (48 – 51kg), saw Poland’s two-time European Games medallist Sandra DRABIK beat Ukraine’s Rio 2016 Olympian Tetiana KOB. Drabik won the bout 5-0 with some good footwork and angled punches. After the fight, Drabik said:
“I knew my opponent from several previous events; we’ve already met four times before this important contest. I had to move better and I beat her with my footwork and speed. The next fight will be such an important one, and I’ll prepare the best tactics with my coach to realise my goal, which is the quota place for Tokyo.”
In the same weight category, Giordana SORRENTINO (ITA) put in a brilliant performance against number two seed Anush GRIGORYAN (ARM) to claim her second 5-0 victory of these qualifiers. It was the same score, and an important home win, for Charley-Sian DAVISON against her Irish rival, Carly McNAUL, in what was the 100th qualifying fight over the last three days.
Speaking immediately after her bout, Davison said: “It was nice to shake off the ring rust and get the first one out the way. Onto the second one now. I think I boxed well considering I haven’t done it in a while competitively. I’ve only had spars in training but that’s totally different to doing it for real, especially at an Olympic qualifier.”
She added: “I felt I could have been sharper, but I think the nerves were there a little bit. But the first one is always shaky, and now it’s out the way I can perform better next time. I’m always hard on myself and you’ve always got to improve on things; you never stop learning.”
The Republic of Ireland’s Michael NEVIN could be one of the dark horses of these qualifiers. The 2019 European Games bronze medallist used his longer reach against the Netherlands’ experienced Max VAN DER PAS in their middleweight (69 – 75kg) contest.
“I feel that I developed well in recent months after the tough preparation for the qualification event. I was taller than my Dutch opponent and our tactic was based on working from longer distance today. It was such a good fight, and I’m ready for the next one. I didn’t check my draw, just moving ahead step by step in this event, but I’m sure my coaching staff will have the right tactic in the next round,” summarised the Irish boxer following his 4-1 victory.
During the evening session, the first 16 quota places for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were assigned: eight for the men’s fly (48 – 52kg) and eight for the men’s feather (52 – 57kg). Two boxers from the British boxing team earned their tickets to Tokyo – the first being the current light flyweight Commonwealth champion, Galal YAFAI, who got the better of his Russian opponent, Rasul SALIEV, with a unanimous 5-0 win.
After the victory, the Birmingham-born Yafai said: “I always give my best and, today, I showed that. I’m buzzing to come out with the win and my ticket to Tokyo 2020.”
Later on, the number one seed in the men’s feather category (52 – 57kg), Peter McGRAIL, showed his boxing skills in the ring with a comfortable win over Czech boxer Kevin GODLA. “I knew in the back of my mind I was good enough, and now I can tell people I’m actually going to the Olympics,” beamed McGrail, the 2017 European and 2018 Commonwealth champion from Liverpool.
In light of the constantly changing landscape worldwide, the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) made the difficult but necessary decision on Monday to suspend the current Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier in London, Great Britain – as well as the subsequent Americas and concluding world qualifiers, which were scheduled to take place in May.
The European qualifier, which started on 14 March and was planned to run until 24 March, officially closed after Monday’s evening session.