Superior fitness and the best atmosphere of his career proved the difference for boxer Lewis Richardson as he moved a step closer to a Commonwealth Games medal.
The 26-year-old Colchester fighter was locked in a brutal Round of 16 contest with Uganda’s Yusuf Nkobeza at The NEC and found himself behind after the first round.
But he responded by taking the second round on all but one of the judges’ scorecards before taking the final round unanimously to win 4-1 on points to reach the quarter-finals.
“I knew it was close going into the last round, it was 1-1 and I was down on one and up on one with it even on three scorecards, I knew there wasn’t much in it,” said Richardson
“But we put in a lot of hard work and effort when we train with GB Boxing and Team England and the fitness has come through there, it was a really good last round.
“Fitness, boxing ability and the crowd all helped. It was a brilliant atmosphere, probably the best I’ve ever boxed in so it was really good and I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals.
“It just shows my fitness, my strength, a few years ago I think opponents like that might have walked through me but know I’m mentally and physically stronger.
“I’m a much better all-round fighter now, I was able mix it on the inside quite well and I felt like I dominated him on the inside and dominated him on the outside as well.”
Richardson is now just one win away from securing at least a bronze medal and he believes his previous competitive experience also came to the fore when the fight wasn’t going his way.
“He was a tough fighter, he was very, very strong, and I was able to get the win. I’m really happy about that as that’s the main thing in these major competitions,” he continued.
“With smaller competitions of course you want to win, but a massive part is gaining the experience and that sets up up for competitions like these.
“These are the sort of competitions where you just want to get through every single stage and get as deep into the competition as possible, I was the only middleweight boxing in the Round of 32.
“All the other 15 boxers got a bye so I’ve had one extra fight than every one but I’m fit and I’m strong and I have prepared myself in the best way possible - that showed.
“It will show in the next fight and the next fight as well. He was raw, he was aggressive and he comes from different angles than we’re used to seeing in European-style fighters.
“I had to adjust a little bit but I tried to stick to the game plan as much as possible but sometimes you’ve got to make small changes in there and I was able to do that off my own back.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is inspiring people and communities across the country and Richardson hopes their performance will motivate others to get involved in sport.
Richardson was Britain’s foremost male middleweight for the Tokyo cycle but missed out after losing in the qualification event to eventual Olympic silver medalist Oleksandr Khyzhniak.
A silver medallist at May’s European Championships, he has overcome a serious back injury to get to this stage and admitted the high of Birmingham is made even sweeter as a result.
“The highs wouldn’t be as highs without the lows. If it was all uphill, uphill and just a high then you wouldn’t appreciate these moments as much, these moments are what we train for,” he added.
“We’re a very strong nation and we’re very lucky to be funded by UK Sport and National Lottery, we’ve got brilliant support from GB Boxing and Team England.
“The amount of people to thank is endless and they train us in the best possible way. I train very, very hard and it pays off in fights like that. It was absolutely brilliant.”
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