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Yafai seals gold, Olympic immortality

After silver medals for Pat McCormack and Ben Whittaker, Great Britain finally struck gold at the Tokyo Olympics as Galal Yafai beat Carlo Palaam via 4-1 split decision to win the flyweight tournament on Saturday.

The 28-year-old thus emulated the achievement of Terry Spinks, who won flyweight gold in the Melbourne Games of 1956.

Yafai began the fight with customary intent and activity, boxing on the front foot while Palaam countered with fast accurate flurries. As the first round unfolded, Yafai began to land the more punishing combinations, flooring Palaam after an excellent one-two, including a big left hand, to take the round on all five judges’ cards.

Palaam, 23, stood his ground in round two and had some success driving Yafai back and landing his shots. It was a tight round in which both men had success, with Yafai landing some clean and eye-catching shots in the second half of the stanza which were enough to ensure four of the five judges’ awarded him the round.

The Filipino – conqueror of reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov earlier in the tournament – therefore needed a huge final round to have any chance of denying Yafai. The Briton picked his shots carefully and fought more cautiously to keep his foe at distance. Palaam produced a rousing round and never stopped striving but he couldn’t find the fight changing punch he needed.

Yafai thus became the 18th British boxer to win Olympic gold (Nicola Adams having won two golds in the nation’s all-time tally of 19 boxing golds).

“It’s absolutely something I’ve always wanted to do,” Yafai told BBC Sport. “I’m Olympic champion and I’m over the moon.

“I’ve worked hard – six years ago I took up boxing and thank god it worked out for me and shows if you work hard you can reap the rewards.

“Everyone back in Britain and Birmingham, the support I’ve received has been ridiculous and amazing. I’m just overwhelmed and so grateful for everyone who has shown me love.”

Lauren Price, in the female middleweight tournament, fights for gold tomorrow on the final day of what has been a highly entertaining Olympic boxing tournament. Three other golds will also be up for grabs on Sunday including in the eagerly-awaited male lightweight final between Keyshawn Davis of the United States and Andy Cruz of Cuba.

Main image: GB Boxing.