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Frazer Clarke ready to topple ‘monster’ as Great Britain’s boxing dream lives on at Tokyo Olympics

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It was inevitable that Big Frazer Clarke would fight the even bigger, Bahkodir Jalolov, on Wednesday in one of the super-heavyweight semi-finals.

Clarke won his bloody quarter-final on Sunday when his French opponent, Mourad Aliev, was disqualified, with just four seconds left in the second round, for persistent illegal use of his head; Aliev stayed on the ring apron and sulked and cried for an hour. He was guilty, but probably not malicious.

Clarke was cut over his left eye and his right eye from Aliev’s butts - cuts that spilled blood all over his face and blocked his vision - and still he tried to calm the agitated Frenchman at the fight’s conclusion. Clarke’s training as a security guard obviously included a section on diplomacy.

The doctors at the Tokyo Olympics will look at ways to stop the cuts from opening and so far several boxers appear to have fought with stitches and a protective layer of clear “skin” on their cuts.

“I know him, he’s a nice guy,” said the Team GB star. “I have boxed him four times and he’s cut me five times.” There is seldom anything logical about the fight game and its friendships.

On Wednesday, Clarke now faces a man known as the Big Uzbek, who arrived in Tokyo with a special fur-lined sack to collect his gold medal. Jalolov stands a shade over 6.8, moves like a middleweight, punches like a crazy donkey and is smart. Jalolov has also fought eight times as a professional, knocking out all eight of his opponents and is unbeaten as an amateur in his last 36 fights. Clarke did beat him in 2014 in Bulgaria and at the Rio Olympics, Joe Joyce easily outpointed him; the Rio loss was one of Jalolov’s last defeats.

“I have no fear of all these monsters,” Clarke said. “Let the Americans, the Uzbeks, the Kazaks and the Russians have fun, but little fat Frazer Clarke from Burton-on-Trent will shock them all.”

In the other semi-final, American slugger, Ricardo Torres Jr, fights the Kazak, Kamshybek Kunkabayev. There has been a glorious old-school feel to the super-heavyweight division, a long lost and missed Cold War edge to the brawls. Torres beat a Cuban in his quarter-final in the fight of the tournament so far.

Frazer Clarke reacts after winning after the disqualification of France's Mourad Aliev (Getty)
Frazer Clarke reacts after winning after the disqualification of France's Mourad Aliev (Getty)

Clarke is guaranteed a medal at super-heavyweight and that is the fifth at the weight by a British boxer in the last ten Olympics. Also, Lennox Lewis won gold in 1988 for Canada, but was born in east London.

On Sunday, Pat McCormack received a bye to Tuesday’s final at welterweight and Ben Whittaker, with his eye on a mayoral run in Wolverhampton, won to secure a final spot at light-heavyweight on Wednesday. The wins mean that GB boxers are guaranteed a total of five medals, equalling the best haul since 1948 and there are still two boxers left to fight for a place in the semi-finals and a guaranteed medal.

McCormack, the number one seed in Tokyo, fights Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias for gold at about 11am on Tuesday; McCormack boxed in Rio and took a huge risk to stay inside the GB system and not turn professional. On Saturday, his twin brother, Luke, lost to Cuban Andy Cruz and immediately announced he was turning professional. Pat will do the same and might just have the gold medal as a bargaining tool.

Carline Dubois and Galal Yafai both have difficult quarter-finals on Tuesday; two wins really would be outrageous.

Dubois, who is only 20, has won twice and now meets the towering and strong Thai, Sudaporn Seesondee at lightweight. It will be a real test and an incredible win.

Caroline Dubois celebrates after winning against USA's Rashida Shakilya Quante Ellis (Getty)
Caroline Dubois celebrates after winning against USA's Rashida Shakilya Quante Ellis (Getty)

At flyweight, Yafai fights the number three seed from Cuba, Yosbany Veitia in a repeat of their fight at the World championships in Russia in 2019. Yafai was brilliant that day when Veitia was both the number one seed and the defending champion; Yafai can win again to beat a Cuban at the Olympics, which remains one of the rarest things in the boxing business. British boxers went decades without a single win against the boys from Havana.

On Wednesday, Whittaker fights for gold at light-heavyweight after beating the Russian, Iman Khataev, in Sunday’s tense semi-final. Khataev had knocked out two of his three opponents and ruined the number one seed; Whittaker won a split decision, his fourth win so far under the Olympic neon. Whittaker meets another Cuban, the elusive Arlen Lopez in the final.

On Friday, the number one seed, Lauren Price, fights Holland’s Nouchka Fontijn in a middleweight semi-final; it is a repeat of their world championship final from 2019 in Siberia. On that occasion, Price initially lost the fight but an appeal by GB Boxing was upheld and after a twenty-minute delay, the decision was reversed. “I guess we both want revenge,” said Price.

Medals for Karriss Artingstall, a tight loser in Saturday’s semi at featherweight, Price, Clarke, McCormack and Whittaker is an exceptional achievement. The possibility of heroics from Dubois and Yafai would make Tokyo unforgettable. It has been a boxing dream so far and it might not be over.

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