It was disappointing double defeat for GB Boxing’s contenders on day 12 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as both Ben Whittaker and Frazer Clarke missed out on upgrading their medals.
Light heavyweight (Under 81kg) boxer Whittaker was boxing for gold as he took of Cuba’s Arlen Lopez, while super heavyweight (Over 91kg) Clarke took on Bakhodir Jalolov for a place in the final.
But both were edged out by highly experienced and decorated opponents despite brave and creditable performances.
Firewalker’s Whittaker started brightly against Lopez, who won a gold in Rio at a different weight, with a series of sharp jabs.
But Lopez’s front foot style caught the eye of the judges, enabling him to take the opening round 5-0 and leave Whittaker with a mountain to climb.
The GB boxer landed more telling shots in the second round, but again Lopez’s work was favoured as he took it on a 4-1 split, leaving the Brit realistically needing a final round knockout.
It did not come as Lopez used all his experience and class to stay out of harms way and prevail 4-1, which resulted in a 4-1 overall success for the Cuban.
After the bout, despite a brilliant tournament, Whittaker could not hide his frustration and disappointment.
He said: “You don’t win silver, you lose gold, and I’m very disappointed with myself. I don’t want to look like a baby or a spoilt brat, but I’m just so upset I didn’t win the gold.
“The mayor of Wolverhampton did a little video for me wishing me good luck and he said if I could get the gold, I could get the chain. I didn’t get the gold, so I’m sure he can keep it for a bit!
“When I do go pro and get a World Championship belt, then maybe we can talk about this again.”
Earlier, Clarke took on number one seed and reigning world champion Jalolov – a boxer who had not been beaten since 2017.
The Burton man came into the bout knowing he would be hampered by two cuts that were sustained from head clashes in his quarter-final win over Mourad Aliev, when the Frenchman was disqualified as a result.
The opening round was keenly contested, but the Uzbek was sharper to the punch and landed more blows to take it unanimously.
Clarke hit back in the second as he rocked Jalolov with a right hand to produce a standing eight count, but his opponent nevertheless responded to take it on a 4-1 split.
But it was obvious that Clarke’s cuts had reopened and that he was in danger of being preventing from completing the final.
And so it proved as, part way through the final round the referee halted proceedings, leaving Jalolov a clear winner via the scoring to that point.
“It’s not the fairytale I wanted but I’m proud of myself. The last six months I have made more sacrifices in boxing than in the previous 18 years,” said Clarke.
“Congratulations to Jalolov who is a very good boxer, but I’m proud of myself and what I have achieved. I’m a little bit gutted about not getting through to the final, but my picture will now be on the wall in Sheffield.
“It’s been an honour to captain the team, but I think they are 11 captains in there really – it’s a fantastic squad.”
(Kristian von Sponneck)
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