Britain’s Joe Joyce lost to Tony Yoka of France in the super-heavyweight final in Rio, the last bout of the Olympic Boxing Tournament.
Joyce claims a silver, but many observers believed he deserved the gold.
Joe Joyce begun the contest as he always does, on the front foot throwing quick combinations aimed at the high guard of his familiar rival, a foe he has met twice before in the ring. He kept on the front foot, digging punches at the reigning world champion’s torso who remained behind his tight guard. A cuffing right eluded the defences of the Frenchmen and found it’s home behind the guard of Yoka, who started to throw his accurate jabs that he is well known for, with occasional success at the oncoming Joyce. A left hook landed by Joyce caused the legs of Yoka to become unsteady beneath him, as he lost his balance and tumbled to the floor, the referee calling the motion a slip. Yoka had been punched to a standstill in the first round as a result of the incessant pressure and high output by Joyce. Nonetheless, the judges scored it two to one in favour of the Frenchman Yoka.
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Joyce immediately struck out of his corner at the start of round two, unleashing a storm of punches at his opponent. The tightly held guard of Yuka blocked many of the oncoming blows but Joyce’s clubbing hooks were still able to move Yoka off balance with their force. Further sustained attack to the midriff of the Frenchmen seemed to steal the wind from him as he tried to constrict Joyce. The physical prowess of Joyce became more evident as he forcefully controlled his opponent, moving him across the ring with his hard punching, and by the end of the round leaving Yoka with his mouth hanging open trying to suck in as much oxygen he could in the minute rest bite awarded at the end of each stanza. The judges again scored the round for Yoka, this time across the board.
Needing a massive round, Joe Joyce pressed even harder in the final round putting all his desire for the gold behind his punches. The pressure by Joyce was now unrelenting and the body blows irresistible, as Yoka remained curled behind his high guard tucking it in tightly to defend the tattooed sides of his body as best he could.
Yoka in a display of defiance performed an Ali shuffle as he retreated to find Joyce still oncoming pressing the attack without pause. Yoka now was throwing single straight punches at Joyce who in true British bulldog spirit returned with a salvo of his own. The back pedalling Frenchmen did not find success in the final round as the bell rung.
The judges tallied their scores and awarded the Frenchman a split decision victory to give him the Olympic Super Heavyweight gold to add to his World Championship gold.
Joe Joyce, for all his spirited efforts throughout the competition, least of all in the final bout, was awarded the Silver medal in another highly questionable decision from the AIBA judges. Undoubtedly a boxer with a bright future, Joyce will likely work his way to joining the mix in the heavyweight division with his 6’6 frame, his thudding power and terrific engine.
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