By Charles Jay
Canada’s Custio Clayton came into the Olympics as an unseeded competitor. But if he wins one more bout, he is in the medal round.
Clayton did a great job in Friday action, winning a 14-11 verdict over Cameron Hammond of Australia. It’s not easy to keep a distance and extract an edge over someone who is taller, but that is exactly what happened with Clayton, who used the jab to great effect, then opened up with a lot of offense late.
The bout was very tight until the final round. In fact, it couldn’t be any tighter; they were tied 2-2 at the end of the first round and 5-5 at the end of two stanzas. Clayton got more aggressive in the third, throwing wildly at times but landing much more, and it was that energy that made the difference on the scorecards.
If you recall, Clayton was impressive in winning a 12-8 decision over Oscar Molina Casillas of Mexico, and on Friday he took the measure of Hammond, who actually came into the Olympics as the #5-rated welterweight in the world according to AIBA.
Clayton, who is a six-time winner of Canadian national tournaments and the father of two children,
Clayton is one of those boxers who was the beneficiary of a strange rule AIBA has that allows a competitor to qualify for the Olympics even if they haven’t reached the quarterfinals, as long as they have lost to the eventual tournament winner. Clayton lost to Myke Carvalho of Brazil, and in the opinion of Daniel Trepanier, the director of the Canadian Amateur Boxing association, he was the second-bets boxer in the entire tournament.
Canada has been shut out of a medal in its last three Olympiads. And this time, they only had two boxers in action. Nova Scotia, which Clayton represents, has not had anyone competing in the Olympics for a period of twelve years, since Scott MacIntosh in 2000. There’s some boxing in the young man’s bloodlines; Gary Johnson, his coach, is a great uncle, and that means he’s related to Kirk Johnson, the former heavyweight contender from Halifax who was Canada’s heavyweight in the 1992 Olympics. Johnson lost to David Izonritei that year.
Next up for Clayton is a daunting task. Great Britain’s Freddie Evans, AIBA’s #2-ranked welterweight and someone who’s going to have a lot of support from the crowd, took care of business in the Round of 16, scoring an 11-7 decision over Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania. If Clayton can turn up the aggressiveness enough to get the job done against a favorite son, he’ll go a step farther than his more famous cousin did.