TEAM Scotland won two boxing gold medals inside 45 minutes yesterday afternoon to record the nation’s best pugilistic performance at a Commonwealth Games since 1962.
With a stunning display that belied his mere 20 years, Charlie Flynn of Newarthill in Lanarkshire won the first gold by defeating Northern Ireland’s Joe Fitzpatrick on points.
Next into the ring was 23-year-old Josh Taylor of Prestonpans in East Lothian who beat Junias Jonas of Namibia, again on a unanimous points decision.
The overall haul of medals was two golds and two bronzes, surpassing any Scottish total in the last dozen Commonwealth Games – what a result for coach Mike Keane and his staff, as well as the boxers’ families, friends and supporters.
Flynn was directly into the attack against Fitzpatrick. A straight left, right uppercut, and a beautiful combination put him ahead, with Fitzpatrick counter punching, but missing with a lot. Flynn just got better and better towards the end of the round, and the judges correctly gave the round to the Scot unanimously.
Realising that he was behind, Fitz-
patrick attacked from the bell to start the second round. His effort petered out midway through the round and, though the action was scrappy, Flynn was scoring with numerous shots while nothing of note came back from Fitzpatrick.
The crowd inside the Hydro sensed a home victory, though they could not know that the judges had Flynn ahead in both rounds. Nor could they see that the previous cut above Flynn’s right eye had reopened, though it did not bother him.
All the Scot had to do was survive the third to lift gold, but Flynn seemed determined to confirm his superiority and as the cheers of “Scotland, Scotland” rang around the Hydro the Royal Mail worker continued to post scoring points and the decision became inevitable – a comprehensive unanimous points win.
The roof of the Hydro seemed in danger of levitating as Fitzpatrick sportingly raised Flynn’s arm aloft before the young mailman was briefly overcome with emotion.
He nearly lost control again when he received his gold medal from his hero Dick McTaggart, lightweight Gold medallist at the 1956 Olympics and 1958 Commonwealth Games – McTaggart said he was “very, very proud” of the new golden generation.
“Dick McTaggart is the man,” said Flynn. “To have him presenting my medal was unbelievable.
“I nearly started greetin’ but I managed to hold it together – I am big tough boxer, I had to!”
Flynn said that from the ring “the crowd looked like ants, but roared like lions”. He added: “It’s mind-blowing that I have done this. I can’t take it in. This is a life-changing event for me.
“The crowd was amazing, when you hit him it was like a thunderstorm building up slowly to a big roar.”
No sooner had Flynn left the arena than Josh Taylor entered for the light-welterweight final. The silver medallist from Delhi 2010 was up against the very dangerous Junias Jonas of Namibia
Tall and rangy, Jonas was wide open when he came forward and Taylor duly clouted him with a right-left that sent the Namibian down on one knee.
It should have been a standing eight count, but amazingly, the highly experienced referee Micky Gallagher did not declare a knockdown, though the judges weren’t fooled and the round went to Taylor.
Jonas caught Taylor with one good shot in the second but the Scot was boxing brilliantly both on the back and front foot, catching Jonas with crisp counters and doing plenty attacking of his own.
Like Flynn, Taylor only needed to survive the last round upright to win, but after Jonas’s predictable whirlwind start, Taylor simply outboxed his opponent to the end. Again the Hydro almost self-combusted as the Scottish crowd rose to acclaim the champion, and then again as he received his medal.
“It was amazing, surreal,” said Taylor. “I could hardly sing Flower of Scotland, I was almost crying and couldn’t hold myself together. I knew I had won the first two rounds and raised my fist to the judges to show that I had won them, and then the last round I just wanted to make sure that I got that gold medal and didn’t walk into any silly shots.
“Now I am going to take a well-earned rest with my family and friends and I am not even going to think about boxing.”
In the light-flyweight final, Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland and Devendro Laishram of India gave us arguably the best start to any contest at Glasgow 2014.
Reigning Commonwealth champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes had to call on all his experience to finish the opening round strongly and then go on to a unanimous points win, the 27-year-old from Belfast retaining his title and lifting Northern Ireland’s first gold of the Games.
One of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came during the medal ceremony for the flyweight division when Scotland’s Reece McFadden was summoned on to the podium to receive his bronze medal.
The Scots in the crowd roared their approval of the wee showman who has been the “find” of the tournament, and who feels he was robbed of victory by poor judging in the semi-final – on reviewing the fight, he certainly has a case.
His conqueror in that the semi-final, Andrew Moloney of Australia, carried on where he left off on Friday, fighting a dangerous opponent, Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem, at long range and outboxing him to gain a unanimous points win.
Scottish heavyweight Stephen Lavelle, from Glasgow, added to the medal haul on Friday night when he took bronze after he was outpointed by New Zealand’s David Light in the last fight of the evening. Lavelle received his medal in front of a cheering home crowd last night.
In the bantamweight division, London Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan of Northern Ireland survived the re-opening of a stitched cut over the right eye to defeat England’s Qais Ashfaq, who beat Scotland’s Joe Ham in the quarter final.