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Ex-Commonweath champ Gerry Hamill 'baffled' by Rio scoring system as Vladimir Nikitin confirms his withdrawal

By David Kelly

Former Commonwealth Games champion Gerry Hamill says he is astounded that Russian Vladimir Nikitin pulled out of his semi-final bout on the back of his highly controversial victory over Belfast man Michael Conlan in Rio.

Nikitin finished the clash with blood streaming from a cut eye and from the side of his head and yesterday Russian official Igor Kazikov confirmed he would not be boxing for a place in the bantamweight decider.

"The injury suffered by our boxer Vladimir Nikitin is too serious," said Kazikov. "Unfortunately, he won't be able to compete in the semi-final."

But 1978 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Hamill, who has been disgusted at some of the judging in Rio, insists he would have grabbed the opportunity to make it to an Olympic final.

"If was me and I had the chance to be fighting for at least a silver medal I would have been fighting. Of course if your eye is so bad that it needs a lot of stitches, then you can't fight but I am surprised that the Russian withdrew," said Hamill, coach of All Saints welterweight Steven Donnelly who boxed very well in Rio, only exiting on a split decision to the number one seed.

Hamill feels "gutted" for World champion Conlan who was favourite for bantamweight gold but suffered horribly at the hands of the judges.

"I thought Michael won every round though the third was closer. Conlan has some engine and he's a very smart boxer. He was the volume puncher though the heavier shots were probably coming from the Russian," said Hamill. "As a coach looking at that first round it was perfect from Michael. We're told the idea of boxing is to hit and not be hit and Michael did that. He was just brilliant and when I saw that all three judges had it 10-9 for the Russian I couldn't believe it.

"There have been some very bad decisions and it leaves me baffled as to what they have been told to focus on. One minute you think it's aggression but then I watched the Cuban win the light-heavyweight gold and he just boxed from range and moved - it was very smart boxing."

The outrage over both Conlan's fight and the heavyweight final has led to six officials being taken off the Olympic roster by governing body AIBA and, curiously, Tyrone judge Michael Gallagher has not been at ringside officiating over the past two days of competition and was last night unavailable for comment.

The AIBA have also reassigned executive director Karim Bouzidi .

A former boxing manager, Bouzidi - CEO of the World Series of Boxing, one of the routes used to qualify for Rio - was in charge of operating the Olympic boxing tournament but those duties will be handled for the final four days by Franco Falcinelli, a vice president of the executive board.

Meanwhile, Nicola Adams eased past old foe Cancan Ren in Rio yesterday and now stands one win away from becoming the first British boxer in 92 years to retain an Olympic title.

The 33-year-old from Leeds faces Sarah Ouhramoune in the flyweight final on tomorrow, after the French veteran saw off Colombia's Victoria Valencia by split decision.

Belfast Telegraph


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