Frazer Clarke powers on as Frenchman loses his head while Pat McCormack and Ben Whittaker also win to guarantee five podium finishes for Team GB in the boxing
In scenes of farce and brilliance yesterday, Britain’s boxers edged ever closer to the team’s best haul of medals at an Olympics.
Wins for Frazer Clarke, Pat McCormack and Ben Whittaker, added to Karriss Artingstall’s featherweight bronze on Saturday and Lauren Price’s forthcoming middleweight semi-final, have ensured Rob McCracken’s programme will take at least five podium finishes.
That will equal their record from London 2012, with Galal Yafai and Caroline Dubois also making progress towards the medal rounds.
It is adding up to a stunning performance from the team of 11.
There was a surreal edge to the latest win for super-heavyweight Clarke, who has waited in the shadows of Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce for the better part of 10 years to get his chance. He won via disqualification in the second round of his quarter-final against Mourad Aliev, with the referee stepping in after Aliev repeatedly used his head, causing two cuts over the Brit’s eyes.
What followed was bizarre as the Frenchman sat on the ring canvas in protest and refused to leave for half an hour.
Clarke, who attempted to cool Aliev during the saga, said: ‘I told him to calm down. I’ve been in those situations myself. Often you’re thinking with your heart and your emotions are all over the place. I’m not sure what he wants to do in the future but I didn’t want him to damage his reputation or be rude to the judges and officials.
‘I know it’s hard and he’s angry, but the best thing to do is calm down and go back to the changing rooms and vent your anger somewhere else.’
Whittaker moved into the light-heavyweight final after a highly impressive win over Imam Khataev. He lost the opening round but fought a classy fight to take a split decision against the Russian.
He said: ‘Every Christmas my coach used to buy me a photo of Muhammad Ali standing on the podium at the Olympics with a gold medal. He said, “This is going to be you”.
‘I hadn’t even won the senior national title, but he told me, “Trust me, you will be there”. Just before I came to the arena he sent me the photo again. I’ve got the chance to do it now, it’s the dream of every amateur boxer.’ McCormack was given a walkover to Wednesday’s welterweight final after Ireland’s Aidan Walsh injured an ankle while celebrating his quarter-final win.