With all of the names that are so hard to spell and so hard to pronounce in these Olympic Games, it is indeed pleasurable for some to see that there are two competitors with English names who are going to battle it out for a spot in the medal round in London.
In a welterweight contest, Custio Clayton of Canada, who has surprised a lot of people so far in this tournament, will be going up against Freddie Evans of Wales, of whom there have been great expectations.
Whether the winner of this bout goes any farther is a big question; after all, the guy who is waiting for them is Taras Shelestyuk of the Ukraine, who is #1 in the world (by AIBA) and the top seed. But as far as excitement for the crowd is concerned, nothing will beat this match.
Clayton, who got here on a qualifying quirk, knows that he’s up against it as far as the audience is concerned, but having beaten the odds thus far, he is hardly intimidated. In his last bout, he took on Cameron Hammond of Australia, who’s had much more international experience and is the #5-rated welterweight by AIBA, and came on strong at the end to pull out a 14-11 win.
Evans may have a lot of advantages, with all the support from the hometown crowd, but he didn’t get much of a break from the people who were making up the seeds. Despite being rated #2 in the world, right behind Shelestyuk, Evans was not seeded in this Olympic tournament, and so he’s had to battle his way through two bouts so far. In the last one, he took the measure of the #4 seed,. Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania, with an 11-7 victory. Some considered that to be an “upset,” because Evans lost to him at the World Championships, but maybe it wasn’t.
Evans won the European Amateur Championship in 2011, so he is going to be a handful for anybody he comes up against. Add the effect of the crowd into that and you have a rough combination to overcome. Some observers felt that is what happened to Kavaliauskas, who was booed by many in the audience and was thought to encounter a little bit of stage fright.
Clayton, who is a cousin to former heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson, who is, like him, from Nova Scotia, says that he is going to have to approach this just like any other fight, regardless of who the opponent is and who the crowd is rooting for. “He’s a southpaw,” Clayton told reporters. “But me and the coaches will have a game plan and take this one step at a time, like every other fight.”