Northern Ireland dominate Day 6 of the Commonwealth Games

July 31st, 2014 / All

Following the second section of the boxing quarter-finals which took place in Glasgow, 52 boxers remain with golden chances ahead for all of them.

For those left in the competition, every competitor now has a guaranteed bronze medal, and all have one day to relax before the semi-finals.

19 different nations still have at least one boxer left in the semi-finals.

Bout of the day
Scotland’s multiple National Champion Joseph Ham has been involved in their national squad since the age of 18, and the home favourite had to face England’s Commonwealth Youth Games winner Qais Ashfaq for a medal.

Prior to the contest, the two had faced each other twice before, with each man picking up a victory.

Both are young Bantamweight class (56 kg) boxers, and both have showed world class prowess in their fledgling careers so far.

Ham was spurred on by his home fans, and tried to use his height and strength as a weapon against the English hope.

Scotland’s star started the fight off better, but could not keep up his efforts, and Ashfaq continued to improve as the bout went on, ultimately winning the contest in an enthralling batter.

Ashfaq won the bout by unanimous decision, and established a winning record over his very tough opponent.

Team of the day
Canada’s Heavyweight class (91 kg) veteran boxer Samir El-Mais won two international tournaments in 2013, and has continued to impress in Glasgow.

His quarter-final opponent was one of the toughest he could face, in England’s rock solid Warren Baister.

The 34-year-old Canadian athlete could not find any form in the three minutes of the contest, but great advice from his coach Daniel Trepanier helped him to turn back the contest, and to ultimately win via split decision.

Two-time AMBC American Women’s Continental Champion Mandy Bujold has been a member of the Canadian national squad since 2006, and has competed against all of the leading boxers of the Flyweight class (51 kg) in recent years.

The Canadian star was clearly better than Australia’s 21-year-old Kirsty Harris who competed at the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Championships in Qinhuangdao.

Another of their best women’s boxers is the two-time AIBA Women’s World Champion Ariane Fortin, who was selected to take part in the Commonwealth Games following her triumph over three-time AIBA World Champion Mary Spencer at home.

Fortin met with New Zealand’s Megan Maka, and won all of the rounds to become the third Canadian semi-finalist on Day 3.

Surprise of the day
Australia’s Jai Tapu Opetaia entered into the world of boxing in 2011 when he claimed the gold medal at the AIBA Junior World Championships in Astana.

Following that great success, he qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games before his 17th birthday, becoming the the youngest participant in those Games.

His rival in Glasgow on Day 6 was Nigeria’s Wesley Efetobor Apochi, who also became famous in 2011 when he bagged a silver medal at the All Africa Games in Maputo.

The 19-year-old Opetaia attacked from the first seconds, and dominated the opening round.

Nigeria’s Apochi refused to quit however, and won the second and third rounds to surprise his more established opponent.

Ones to watch
Northern Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist and EUBC European Continental Championships silver medallist Michael Conlan dominated his bout against Uganda’s young hope Bashir Nasir in their quarter-final contest, and now looks ahead to achieving more than the bronze he already owns.

His teammate, Patrick Barnes is one of the stars of Glasgow 2014, and also claimed a medal with a stoppage win over Papua New Guinea’s Charles Keama.

Canada’s London 2012 Olympic Games quarter-finalist Custio Clayton is the North American nation’s top men’s athlete, and began his boxing career at the age of 8.

The Welterweight class (69 kg) boxer travelled to medal to Glasgow, but his opponent in the quarter-finals was Northern Ireland’s Stephen Donnelly who claimed the gold medal in the last edition of the Irish National Championships, where he defeated London 2012 Olympian Adam Nolan in the final.

Donnelly took the lead after a fairly equal first round, and he was able to keep the advantage till the end of the fight, in part to a fantastic last round.

Northern Ireland won all of their contests on Day 6, and have become the most successful boxing team in Glasgow, with an incredible nine guaranteed medals.

Kenya’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Benson Gicharu Njangiru has moved up to the Bantamweight class (56 kg) since the last edition of the Games which was took place in New Delhi, and his form was excellent once again.

He had to perform at his very best against Cayman Islands’ new sensation and ‘AIBA Road to Almaty Program’ member Tafari Ebanks in their quarter-final bout.

The 29-year-old Kenyan athlete controlled the first two rounds, and finally his hand was raised after the final bell in spite of Ebanks’ amazing efforts in the last three minutes.

Australia’s National Champion Shelley Watts exceeded her previous expectations with her triumph over England’s AIBA Women’s World Championships bronze medallist Natasha Jonas yesterday.

The Australian star reached a career best performance on Day 5, and maintained her great form with a dominant win over Mauritius’ Isabelle Ratna, in a contest which was ended by the referee after just 163 seconds.

Fact/Stat of the day
New nations have now joined the successful medal hunt in the boxing tournament of the Commonwealth Games, with Canada, India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia all bagging medals after the second part of the quarter-finals.

The following nations have boxers in the semi-finals:
Northern Ireland: 9 athletes are guaranteed medallists
England: 7 boxers
India, Wales: 5 competitors
Scotland: 4 athletes
Australia, Canada, Nigeria: 3 boxers
New Zealand, Uganda: 2 boxers
Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago and Zambia: 1 boxer in the semi-finals

Quotes of the day
“My strong South African opponent, Ayabonga Sonjica was good at what he did, he was awkward to get to. I think the only difference between us was that I wanted it that little bit more than him. We had to pick the tempo up during as he was just hitting and moving so I had to get close with fast feet and let the shots go,” commented his success Wales’ titleholder Sean McGoldrick who advanced to the semi-finals at the Bantamweight class (56 kg) following his triumph over South Africa’s London 2012 Olympian Ayabonga Sonjica.

“I did not feel too bad about today’s bout, I was just a little bit wary of his jab. He had a good one but I just tucked in my chin, doubled my jab and tried not to throw too many swinging shots for him to counter wme. It was obviously not as good as this was my first fight here in Glasgow but I am satisfied with the win. I just want to relax more and lets the shots flow more,” said New Zealand’s AIBA Oceanian Olympic Qualifiers silver medallist David Light following his clear triumph over Kenya’s tall Charles Odhiambo Okoth.

“I felt good to get the win today. I actually got a little bit emotional waiting for my hand to be raised as it sunk in I have a guaranteed medal. It is an amazing feeling to know all the hard work, dedication and sacrifice is all worth is,” said Shelley Watts after her latest triumph.

Tomorrow’s program
The winners of the quarter-finals can relax for one day in the Commonwealth Games because the competition will continue with the semi-finals on Friday.