WARREN BAISTER’S dreams of a Commonwealth heavyweight gold disappeared as he suffered a narrow quarter-final defeat to Canadian Samir El-Mais this afternoon.
The Sunderland fighter raised his hands to the air at the end of a bruising encounter that left El-Mais with blood streaming down his cheek after he suffered a cut to his right eye.
But whereas Baister thought he had done enough to guarantee himself a medal, two of the three ringside judges came down in the Canadian’s favour.
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The result ends Baister’s Commonwealth adventure, and given that he will be 29 at the start of September, also robs the Wearsider of what was surely his best chance of claiming a senior medal in the amateur ranks.
“I’m just absolutely devastated,” said Baister, who is a member of Sunderland ABC. “Being here means a lot to me, and I can’t believe it’s all over.
“I had my eyes set on getting the gold, and I can’t believe that’s not going to happen now. It’s all really hard to take.”
Having come through a difficult home-nation encounter to make the quarter-finals, Baister started today’s fight as a narrow favourite.
He started well enough, edging a narrow first round that saw him land a couple of decent right hands as El-Mais attempted to cover up in the middle of the ring.
The second round was a different story though, with Baister’s attempts to get inside his opponent failing and El-Mais gradually starting to pick him off with some long-range jabs.
It all came down to the final three minutes, and while El-Mais needed attention to wipe away the blood that was streaming from above his eye, it was the Canadian who landed the more powerful shots.
One searing right in particular rocked Baister onto his heels with 30 seconds remaining, and while there wasn’t a lot in it, it was hard to argue with the judges’ final verdict.
“I thought I’d done enough to win but I suppose it wasn’t to be,” said the Wearsider. “I thought I’d be the winner when the bell went, but that’s boxing.”
England’s Qais Ashfaq is guaranteed a medal in the bantamweight division, and on the evidence of today’s accomplished quarter-final win over Scotland’s Joe Ham, it will probably be gold.
Ashfaq, a highly-regarded 21-year-old from Leeds, was much too quick and mobile for his opponent, and looks set to be one of Team GB’s brightest prospects ahead of the Rio Olympics in two years time.