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Golden Briton trumps boxing brothers, Turk makes history

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Philippines’ Carlo Paalam (red) and Britain’s Galal Yafai fight during their men’s fly (48-52kg) boxing final bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena on Saturday. AFP

Golden Briton trumps boxing brothers, Turk makes history

Britain’s Galal Yafai said that he will enjoy light-hearted bragging rights over his boxing brothers after defeating Carlo Paalam to win flyweight Olympic gold on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Yafai, a former car-factory worker, won on split points in an enthralling contest against the Filipino to earn Britain’s first boxing gold in Tokyo.

There was meanwhile a shock in the men’s middleweight final after Brazil’s Hebert Sousa produced a stunning third-round knockout to win gold.

Yafai’s older brothers, Kal and Gamal, are both established professionals. But neither ever won a Games medal, never mind a gold one.

Yafai said that he will indulge in a little good-natured one-upmanship when he sees them.

“To be fair, we are normally supportive of each other and not argumentative,” said the new champion.

“They will be happy for me, like I would be for them.

“I might do it once or twice [brag to them] in future, but only on the joking side.”

Yafai said this will be the end of him as an Olympian, as he eyes a professional career, and wants to be a world champion one day.

But for now, he is savouring Games gold – a far cry from the days when he was working picking up rubbish on the floor of a car factory as recently as 2015.

“It’s a massive day for me, it’s something that I’ve dreamed about since I was young,” he said.

Yafai, cheered on from the stands by his British teammates – many of them with the country’s flag draped over their shoulders – had Paalam down in the first round of the scheduled three after an incisive three-punch combination.

Paalam 23, was always playing catch-up after that and admitted that Yafai “had my number”.

In the middleweight final, Ukraine’s top seed Oleksandr Khyzhniak was ahead on the judges’ scorecards and appeared destined for gold.

But out of nowhere the unfancied Sousa floored him with a left flush on the cheek to send him flying to the floor with a thud.

The referee immediately waved the bout off, with Khyzhniak wobbly on his feet and looking groggy.

“I got lucky, I connected, it was a KO, I’m very pleased,” said the 23-year-old Sousa, who performed a capoeira dance in celebration.

However, Khyzhniak, 26, felt that he was hard done by and said that he could have continued.

“I did not understand it,” said the aggrieved silver medallist.

He’s watching me

In women’s boxing, Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey won the welterweight title for her country’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport.

There was also silver for compatriot Buse Naz Cakiroglu, beaten in the flyweight final by Bulgaria’s Stoyka Krasteva.

The 23-year-old Surmeneli has looked unstoppable in the Japanese capital and her opponent, China’s Gu Hong, took a standing count towards the end of the second round.

An emotional Surmeneli collapsed to the floor and banged the canvas when her victory was announced, before dissolving into tears.

She had been thinking of her late grandfather, she said.

“I know he died, but I know that he’s watching me,” she added.

“The first thing when I return back to Turkey, I will go back to his grave and show my medal.”

The 35-year-old Krasteva also made a piece of history, becoming Bulgaria’s first women’s Olympic boxing champion.

She came out of retirement to do it.

“I had stopped with boxing but was persuaded to come back and this is the reward,” she said.

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