Friday, 12 August 2016
Britain’s Joshua Buatsi said he had surprised even himself as he thundered his way into the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympic boxing with a brutal knock-out to enhance his rapidly growing reputation on Thursday.
It was the 23-year-old Londoner’s second KO in two fights in Brazil as he destroyed the vastly more experienced Uzbek Elshod Rasulov in their light-heavyweight showdown, and will lift British boxing medal hopes after a run of defeats in Rio.
Buatsi was already ahead on the judges’ score cards when he put the three-time Olympian Rasulov, 30, down once and then a second time in the third and final round.
Rasulov’s legs had gone and when another devastating combination sent him tumbling for a third time the referee put a stop to the punishment, as the mostly Brazilian crowd in the 9,000-seat arena greeted their hard-hitting new hero from Britain.
“He was tricky and I was glad that I was able to perform and get rid of him,” said the level-headed Buatsi, who was not considered a strong medal hope before Rio but is now just one win from at least a bronze.
“The team spirit is really low at the moment, the boys have been losing, and I’ve gone in there and said, ‘You know what? I want to put everything in and get one back for the team.’
“As shocked as you are, so am I. I’ve surprised myself.”
Buatsi, who was born in Accra and could have represented Ghana, said he hoped he had not seriously hurt Rasulov.
But added: “You have to go in there and lose respect for everyone. He’s done more than I’ve done. When he was competing in Olympics I wasn’t boxing, I was just walking about in London doing what I’ve got to do.
“I couldn’t really tell you how it’s happening. I never saw this coming. My trainers back home may have, but I didn’t.”
Lennox Lewis, the former British heavyweight world champion who won gold for Canada in 1988, was among those congratulating Buatsi on Twitter, telling him: “Keep it going!”
Britain’s new Olympic boxing hero faces seasoned Algerian Abdelhafid Benchabla, 29, in the last eight on Sunday.
Later Thursday the British light welterweight Pat McCormack edged Ablaikhan Zhussupov of Kazakhstan with a split-points decision victory.
But welterweight Josh Kelly — a part-time model — could not make it a hat-trick on the day for Britain, losing to another Kazakh, Daniyar Yeleussinov, on unanimous points.
McCormack, who faces a tough next preliminary round against the Cuban Yasnier Toledo on Sunday, said: “When they said split (decision), my heart dropped a bit, but I was thinking, ‘They can’t have given it to him.’
“I thought I won very well but it is what it is -– as long as I got the win.”
Source by: AFP