By Charles Jay
Freddie Evans is someone who feels he’s got something to prove in these Olympics. He’s had a distinguished amateur career, but doesn’t think he got all the credit he deserved when it came to the seeding process for the welterweight division.
Evans, a Welshman, is a star in the UK, and rose to international prominence last year when he bested many others to win the European Amateur Championships.
The 21-year-old from Cardiff took one more step toward an Olympic medal with an 11-7 verdict over Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania, which moves him into a quarterfinal matchup against Custio Clayton of Canada that will take place next Thursday.
Evans is known in the business as a guy who’s “not afraid to throw his hands,” but things were not always easy against Kavaliauskas, who won a bronze medal in last year’s World Championships and was #7 in the AIBA ratings. In fact, he had to really pull out all the stops in the final three minutes. With the score tied 5-5 as the final stanza began, Evans started to pepper his opponent with right hands and scored points with the judges.
“Furious Freddie” began boxing at the age of ten. He was a European Cadet champion five years ago and then qualified for the Olympics with a quarterfinal berth in the worlds. The man who prevented him from going any farther in that tourney was none other than Kavaliauskas, who embarrassed him with a knockdown on the way to a decision win last year.
Evans acknowledges that he was a little thrown by the wild atmosphere when he engaged in his opening round match against Algeria’s Ilyas Abbadi, but settled down a lot more for Friday’s bout and was ready to absorb the energy that was coming from the throng of supporters.
Clayton is a bigger surprise than Evans. A cousin of former heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson, he scored an upset on Friday when he beat Cameron Hammond of Australia.
Britain is currently undefeated in the Olympics. Remember that China won four medals in the 2008 Games. The home crowd can provide a powerful impetus, and that’s one of the things that Evans will be counting on.