THE victory celebrations began a couple of seconds early for Scotland boxing captain Callum Johnson yesterday as he raised his arms in triumph a couple of seconds before victory over Thomas McCarthy of Northern Ireland was confirmed. But, as the light-heavyweight later revealed, it had been tempting to start them a whole lot earlier.
• Callum Johnson celebrates the win over Thomas McCarthy that secured his gold medal. Picture: Getty Images
After a difficult first round, which ended pointless despite Johnson landing several strong uppercuts, the 25-year-old Scot stormed ahead in the second, by the end of which he was 6-1 up. He maintained his self-discipline and added two more points in the third to complete an 8-1 win, but, as team-mate Stevie Simmons played Flower of Scotland on a vuvuzela during those closing three minutes, Johnson was sorely tempted to add his own vocal accompaniment.
"I could hear Stevie, and, to be honest, in the last round I nearly started singing it myself," he said. "It was in my head - I was singing it in my head in the last 30 seconds. But you've got to keep focused, because it only takes one shot in this game.
"The last round, from the start, I knew I was Commonwealth champion. The whole round I was nearly smiling to myself, I was just thinking: 'Come on Cal, come on.'
"I'm overwhelmed with it. I always knew I could come and do it, but to be here and do it…"
Watched by First Minister Alex Salmond and Prince Edward, Johnson thought his first-round superiority should have been displayed on the scoreboard to those two spectators and the rest of a feverish crowd inside the Talkatora Stadium. But he did not allow himself to become frustrated, and earned his reward in the second. "It was 0-0 after the first round, yet his nose was pouring with blood. So I knew it was coming, that I was hurting him. Those uppercuts were getting through - I must have hit him with five or six.
"It wasn't getting scored, but I knew it was only a matter of time before they had to start scoring them.
"And that's what won me the fight, because he had a tight guard, and before the match the coaches said: 'He's tight, he'll tuck up inside, come up the middle and you'll break him up.' And I did. He actually nearly went, but I let him off the hook because I thought the referee was going to give him a standing count, but he told him to put his head down. His legs dipped a little bit, I thought. I started breaking him up and he wasn't enjoying it - I could see that in his face."
Although unsure if he will be around to defend his Commonwealth title in four years, Johnson does have a future sporting goal firmly in his sights. "Glasgow? Maybe, we'll see," he said when asked about 2014. "I've got big ambitions for London.I want to win at the Olympics."
Johnson had decided before he came to India that he would have a new tattoo to commemorate victory here, but it was not until yesterday that he revealed where it would go. "It's not really a fashion thing, is it? So probably on my bum, so I can show it when I've got my kilt on."
Johnson's gold was one of three boxing medals for Scotland: Simmons had been consigned to bronze on Monday when he lost his semi-final, and Josh Taylor had to settle for silver after being beaten in his lightweight final yesterday.
The 19-year-old Taylor was up against the substantially more experienced English fighter Thomas Stalker, and although he was level at 2-2 after the opening round, he was 6-3 behind by the end of the second and lost another three points without reply in the third.
"I'm sick and absolutely gutted," Taylor said. "I did everything I could, it's just he was better on the day. He knew what to do against me - he kept me at range and opened up a bit more."
Unlike his captain, Taylor is sure that he wants to compete in a home Games in 2014. "I'm going to hold on to the pain until 2014," he said. "I'll be there giving 100 per cent again. It'll be electric in Glasgow."