Aussie boxing campaign goes down fighting

Published 13 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12: Shelley Marie Watts of Australia lands a right shot on Irma Testa during the Women's Lightweight (57-60kg) Preliminaries bout on Day 7 of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Riocentro - Pavilion 6 on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

BOXING: Middleweight Daniel Lewis fought bravely but his second round loss to Uzbekistan’s world No. 2 champion Bektemir Melikuziev at Riocentral on Friday marked the end of Australia’s 2016 Olympic boxing campaign.

Lewis, 22, was the last of the three Australians standing in their first Olympic campaign in Rio, but the trio can be very proud of their efforts. Lewis lost in a clear unanimous 3-0 (30-27, 30-26, 30-27) decision to the Uzbekistan, as did Jason Whately, while team mate Shelley Watts suffered a split decision in the first round.

“I know I didn’t get the decision, but I gave it everything,” said Lewis.

“Number 2 in the world, I knew it was going to be a tough fight. He is very slippery; hard to hit. He had me missing a lot.”

However Lewis said both he and Melikuziev “landed some good shots and we both took them really well”, despite the Uzbekistan throwing him off-balance in the first round.

“I tried to hit him hard, but I hit thin air. He didn’t hit me or drop me; I was just off balance,” he said.

Lewis said while his Olympic campaign finished earlier than he would have liked, it had been an “amazing” experience.

“I got a good win the other night against a tough boy (Poland's Tomasz Jablonski in the first round on Tuesday) and (then) fighting the Number 2 in the world,” he said.

“I lost to a good opponent so I can’t complain about that.”

Watts lost her bout just an hour-and-a-half before Lewis took to the ring, but Lewis said it didn’t have an impact on his performance.

“Nothing really gets to me before fights; absolutely nothing,” he said. “I have fought the day after my Pop passed away, so nothing gets to me. I knew that she had lost but it didn’t affect me at all.”

Watts suffered a shock first round elimination to lanky Italian Irma Testa in a 2-1 split decision (39-37, 37-39, 39-37) after a strong performance, a decision which Australian Olympic boxing team assistant coach Don Abnett said was a "hard pill to swallow".

"The judges saw it differently (to the two coaches Abnett and Kevin Smith)," he said.

"It's terrible to accept something like this at the Olympic Games.

"Shelley had it pretty much under control; I don't know what the judges were looking for."

Despite the height mismatch, Abnett said Watts and head coach Kevin Smith had a plan to counteract the long-reach of the 18-year-old.

"We looked at her at the European Championships and came up with a plan which we thought had paid off," Abnett said.

Tracie Edmondson

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