It was a body blow, Reece McFadden admitted, harder almost than any received amid the cut and thrust of hand-to-hand combat. One victory away from fighting for a Commonwealth Games gold which the 22-year-old flyweight had spent four years dreaming of and training arduously for. Three rounds, move on, jostle for the prize.
His performance in yesterday’s semi-final against Northern Ireland’s Brendan Irvine was active and aggressive, and it seemed destined to move him onwards. Instead, his spirits sunk to the floor with a bottomless sense of grievance. A split decision – four judges to one - marooned the Scot in bronze at Gold Coast 2018. It was unfathomable and initially impossible to accept. Bruised only slightly on the outside, wholly battered and bloodied inside.
It felt worse than in Glasgow in 2014 when McFadden branded the officials “corrupt” following a defeat at the same stage to Australian Andrew Maloney. Bobbing and weaving, ducking and diving, he took the fight straight to the man from Belfast, picking his spots, underlining his intent.
There was a little showboating too. A sign of complete faith in his superiority and soaking up the occasion. “I am just enjoying myself, not trying to humiliate my opponent or anything like that,” he proclaimed. Maybe some had taken offence. The only possible rationale, he felt, for what felt like an inexplicable appraisal.
“If they are judging on who won then I am pretty sure I have more than a rough idea if I have won the fight or not,” he said. “I am not a biased guy, I am honest. Some people don’t like me because of my honesty.” Once the scores were announced as a split call, he knew. He just knew. “The guy was punching thin air, he was punching the air,” he protested. “See all the sacrifice you have done, it goes right in the bin. Straight dumped right in the bin, saying that is making me angry.”
It will eventually expire, he hopes. Turning professional is now an even-more logical step. A joiner by trade, he will cut through the gloom and see what lies next. “Where do I go now? Back into that dressing room to have a hard think,” he affirmed. “It has sickened me but I don’t want to say too much. Do I need to have a think about things? I have thought about things. I know what I am doing.”
In due course, two Commonwealth bronzes will be nice souvenirs. For now, they are evidence of low blows to the gut. “That maybe sounds nasty, as though it is nothing,” he signalled. “It is great, I love it, but it is really not what I wanted. I set my heart out for the gold and I really thought I had done enough to get at least the silver.”
John Docherty will also return home with bronze but he had no complaints as Cameroon’s Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue seized a 5-0 decision over the middleweight from Montrose, leaving Scotland two golds shy of their boxing tally from Glasgow 2014.
“He was just all over me and taking the fight from me,” said the 20-year-old. “I just didn’t stick to the right tactics. I thought the only way to go was to take the fight to him but he was too good.”