Dripping in sweat as if just doused with a bucket of water, Canada's Simon Kean walked out of the Olympic boxing arena Wednesday pushed to his max, but with a victory in hand
Canada got its second boxing victory of the London Games as Kean of Trois Rivieres, Que. overcame a first-round deficit to beat Tony Yoka of France in a fight so close it went into count-backs, and Kean was declared the winner in his Olympic debut.
The 23-year-old super heavyweight had to fight back from a 3-6 hole in the first-round. As the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Canadian and the 6-foot-6 231-pound Frenchman squared off, Yoko was dominating, at one point knocking Kean's mouth guard clear across the ring in their 91+ kilogram division contest.
Then Kean landed a flurry of punches in the second round as if a totally different fighter -- much to the delight of the boisterous Olympic fans. He pulled ahead 10-9.
In the third, Kean sustained the aggressive fighting and the two tied at 16-16. The judges then went back to count every single punch that each boxer threw, and determined Kean had tossed more bombs, so he got to advance.
"I'm so very happy, it's been a long time my dream to fight in the Olympics and I have a victory," said Kean. "I think I am more tired than the other guy right now."
Kean's next fight will be Kazahstan's Ivan Dychko.
"Everyone back home at my uncle's house must have been jumping and cheering for me, they will be very proud," said Kean.
It was a night with a couple of strange moments for the Olympic boxing tournament on Wednesday. First, Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu publicly ripped the judges for what he called an unfair loss to Azerbaijan's Magomed Abdulhamidov in the 56-kilogram weight class. The scoring is not displayed until the end of each round, so the declaration of the winner often catches the fighters and crowd by surprise, and that was often the case Wednesday night. Some questioned a handful of disqualifications, while one boxer was punted from the competition for failing to show up for his weigh in, Angolan boxer Tumba Silva.
Next up for the Canadian Boxing team at the Olympics is Custio Clayton of Dartmouth, N.S., who upset Mexico's Oscar Molina Casillas on Sunday. He gets his second match on Friday versus Australian Cameron Hammond. On the women's side, three-time world champion Mary Spencer opens her Olympic tournament on Sunday when she fights the winner of a bout between Chinese boxer Li Jinzi and Brazil's Roseli Feitosa.
Canada's last Olympic boxing gold medalist, Lennox Lewis who won at the 1996 Barcelona Olympics, spoke at the boxing venue on Wednesday, on hand for his broadcasting duties with BBC. He had two concerns about the tournament.
"What has impressed me is the amount of talent that's been brought together," began Lewis. "What I am concerned about is probably the judging. You never know who is going to win until the end of the fight."
He suggested some changes he would like to see to amateur boxing.
"I would probably take away the head gear and change the judging system," said the retired boxer and world heavyweight champ. "Get some judges that score all year round."