Lewis' luck turns as he wins opening bout

Published 10 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 05: Daniel Jason Lewis of Australia works out in a boxing training session at Rio Centro on August 5, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

BOXING: Australian middleweight (75kg) Daniel Lewis has made a dream Olympic debut beating Poland’s Tomasz Jablonski in a split decision in the Preliminary Round tonight at Riocentro.

Lewis won the first two rounds (29-28, 29-28) but the third went to Jablonski 29-28.

“I wasn’t nervous; I was excited and relaxed,” said Lewis. “I could hear the Aussie support, and even the Brazilians were cheering.

“It was awesome; a dream come true.  To come away with a win from my first fight at an Olympics is amazing.

“I was a bit scared when they said it was a split decision … but my luck has turned.”

It was a case of third time lucky at a major international tournament for Lewis, who broke his jaw in the Olympic qualifier in 2011 and then was ruled out of competition in the 2014 Commonwealth Games with a cut eye.

“I couldn’t have been better prepared,” said Lewis, who made weight so comfortably for the bout that he was able to eat the night before.

“We knew he would be tough; I had seen him fight before.

“I listened to my coaches and picked my shots.”

After breaking his jaw in 2011, Lewis had a year off, at first believing his boxing career was over.

“The doctor told me I shouldn’t fight again but I decided to get a second opinion, said Lewis, from Londonderry, in western Sydney.

“That doctor told me I could and I haven’t looked back since.”

Lewis, 22, will now face Uzbekistan’s No. 2 seed Bektemir Melikuziev on Friday night (August 12), in the same session that Shelley Watts, 28, will make her Olympic debut (at 5.45pm) in the women’s lightweight division (57-60kg).

The pair lead Australia’s charge to win Australia’s first Olympic boxing medal in 28 years (1988) and first-ever boxing gold medal. To make the gold medal round on August 20, Lewis has to win through four rounds; while Watts needs to win through three for the gold medal round on August 19.

Lewis is confident about his medal chances after a solid preparation being crowned Australian and Oceania Champion as well as claiming gold at the 2015 Doha International Tournament where he was named athlete of the tournament.

Lewis is one of three members of the Australian Olympic boxing team, with Jason Whateley’s Olympic dream already over, unfortunately suffering a Preliminary Round loss on Saturday to Brazilian Juan Nogueira with a unanimous 3-0 decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).

Tracie Edmondson

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