Galal Yafai guaranteed at least silver medal after thrilling Olympic boxing win
Galal Yafai will fight for an Olympic gold medal on Saturday after a thrilling flyweight semi-final victory over Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan at the Kokugikan Arena.
“It’s insane, its like a dream,” Yafai told the BBC after a bout that left his opponent distraught.
It was an explosive fight that Yafai began with an adrenal surge of precision punches, swarming all over Bibossinov. That early barrage led to a standing count for the Kazakh as Yafai caught him with a right hand.
From there it was a battle for space, both men trying to assert their own will as to where it would be fought. Yafai managed to spend the first round at close range and swept the judges’ cards.
But Bibossinov is a classy fighter and he kept his opponent at a more comfortable range in round two, picking away at Yafai from distance and taking it 3-2.
That left a third-round decider and it was breathless stuff, both men attacking relentlessly and Bibossinov punching himself to a state of exhaustion. Yafai’s close work looked enough to win, although there was the peculiar spectacle of Bibossinov raising his arms in triumph 10 seconds before the end, to Yafai’s apparent bemusement.
Yafai took the decision, leaving Bibossinov in tears, although he did recover in time to congratulate the winning corner. Yafai is now guaranteed at least a silver medal when he fights Carlo Paalam of the Philippines.
He comes from a fighting background: his brothers, Gamal and Kal, are professional boxers, and they grew up sparring in the family home, an informal training that, Yafai says, made up for any gaps in his amateur years as he focused at times on football. He looks a seriously talented, seriously confident flyweight.
Paalam has also stormed his way through, offering the prospect of an explosive final. Great Britain are certain to win five boxing medals at these Games, although none yet have been a gold.
In the women’s draw, Kellie Harrington of Ireland reached the final of the lightweight competition with a split win against over Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand, who defeated Team GB’s Caroline Dubois in the previous round.