Clayton rolls into quarters
UPDATED 5:33 a.m. Saturday
Nova Scotia’s Custio Clayton is a win away from an Olympic medal.
The 24-year-old father of two, sporting Canadian red and white, won his second straight fight in the 69-kilogram (welterweight) boxing draw, downing Australia’s Cameron Hammond 14-11 in the round of 16 on Friday at Excel Arena.
Clayton broke out the leather late after the two were even at 5-5 after two rounds.
“In the last round I gave it everything and it worked,” said a sweaty Clayton in the moments after the bout.
A pair of scoring combinations ended any doubt in the final minute as Hammond appeared to fade.
Clayton’s Team Canada coach, Sylvain Gagnon, told him he needed to get busy in the last round or risk losing to the Australian, who showed a strong left hand.
“I told him if he wanted to win the fight he would have to throw punches and that’s exactly what he did,” said Gagnon. “(Hammond) was a pretty good fighter, but Custio moved his level higher in the third round.”
Clayton said he had no intention of leaving the decision to the end.
“The plan was to start off a little faster, but you’re fighting a different fighter every day,” he said. “He showed he was a counter-puncher and he wanted to wait, so I had to switch up and start a little slow and do more fakes.”
He said Hammond surprised him with good speed. They expected him to have hard hands and slower feet.
“I give a lot to him, he showed a lot of heart in there, but the better man won.”
Clayton said he responded to the challenge of his coach.
“He told me that I made it this far and now I had to show everybody how bad I wanted it. So I did what I had to do. I showed how much I wanted it.”
The win felt “great,” Clayton said. “We’ve got to sit down and see what we’re going to do next. Hopefully, that works too.”
He’s been using his family back home for inner peace. He talks to his family most every day and almost never about boxing.
He knows he’s getting lots of support from Nova Scotia as he heads to his next bout.
“I’ve got a lot of fans back home and I thank everyone for being behind me. I’m going to prepare for that fight and hopefully bring a medal home.”
The Dartmouth City of Lakes boxing club fighter will now take on Great Britain’s Freddie Evans in the quarter-finals on Tuesday night. Evans upset fourth-seeded Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania 11-7 for the other spot in the final eight.
All semifinalists earn medals with the semifinal losers taking home bronze.
Top-seeded Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine, the reigning world champion, also won to move on to the quarter-finals. He beat Vasilii Belous of Moldova 15-7.
Shelestyuk, uninspiring but technically outstanding and dominating inside, is widely expected to be the opponent for the winner of Clayton-Evans in the semifinals.
Clayton, a six-time Canadian amateur champion, began the draw on Sunday with a 12-8 win over Mexico’s Oscar Molina.
He is Nova Scotia’s first boxer in the Olympics in 12 years. David Defiagbon was the last fighter representing Nova Scotia to win an Olympic medal. He won silver in Atlanta in 1996.