Custio Clayton fell just short of securing Canada’s first Olympic boxing medal since 1996.
The fighter from Dartmouth, N.S. lost a devastatingly close quarter-final bout to Great Britain’s Freddie Evans, the reigning European champion who was backed by a thunderous crowd Tuesday in London. A win would have guaranteed Clayton at least a bronze medal in the 69-kg weight class. Canada appealed the decision.
The 5-foot-11 southpaw from Cardiff, Wales seemed to tower over the 5-9 Canadian. He jabbed high with his long reach while Clayton tried to slip underneath and jab to the mid-section. The Canadian fell into an early 7-2 hole.
But Clayton fought back in the second round and kept Evans from connecting. He won the second round 6-3 and edged closer to Evans 8-10.
Clayton stuck on strategy in the final round despite chants of ‘FREDDIE, FREDDIE’ The fight ended in a 14-14 tie after regulation time. The judges then went back to count every punch landed, and they called Evans winner on count-backs. So the Brit was given the victory, but Canada then appealed and must wait until late night London time for an answer.
“I didn’t get the victory, but I did Canada proud, and I did Nova Scotia proud,” said a smiling Clayton, showing both disappointment and pride. “Everyone that saw that fight would give it to me. I believed I had it, but it didn’t turn out that way. I take my hat off to him though.”
The 24-year-old fighter and father of two small kids is the last Canadian boxer to fall in London after Mary Spencer and Simon Kean both lost Monday. Clayton hasn’t yet decided if he will turn pro now.
It was progress for boxing in Canada though. Canada qualified just one boxer for the last Olympics in Beijing, Adam Trupish. He was eliminated in his first bout.
“The program is doing well and going in the right direction,” said coach Sylvan Gagnon. “We have to get more good fights. In Europe they can drive 2-3 hours and get good fights, we have to fly 6 hours.”
Canada’s last Olympic boxing medal came at the Atlanta Games when David Defiagbon earned silver. Lennox Lewis was the last Canadian boxer to win Olympic gold when he did so in Seoul in 1988.