Ben Whittaker and Pat McCormack are through to the finals at Olympic Games, while super-heavyweight Frazer Clarke is guaranteed a medal after an extraordinary ending

GB’s Ben Whittaker and Pat McCormack are through to finals of the Olympic Games.

Whittaker defeated strong Russian light-heavyweight Imam Khataev on Sunday (August 1) at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.

Khataev came forward, looking to fire in his hard right. But Whittaker sidled off to the sides, peppering the Russian with quick jabs. The Briton upped his output in the second round, throwing his own cross more frequently. Khataev’s harder punches cracked into the body but Whittaker only let him land single shots, rolling under those blows and maintaining his perpetual motion. The Russian’s aggression kept it close throughout but Whittaker took a split decision victory.

He will box in the 81kgs final on Wednesday.

Welterweight Pat McCormack had been due to box earlier in the day. But his scheduled opponent, Ireland’s Aidan Walsh withdrew having sustained an injury after his last contest. McCormack gets a walkover and will go straight into the 69kgs final on Tuesday.

Both Whittaker and McCormack are guaranteed at least silver medals now, but they’ll want more.

Ireland’s Walsh has secured a 69kgs bronze medal. “What Aidan did this week is an incredible achievement,” said Ireland’s team leader for boxing, Bernard Dunne in a statement. “His performance throughout the tournament has been outstanding.

“It is great to see him write his name in the annals of Irish sport. Just over two years ago we selected Aidan for his first major championship, and over the past few months that potential that we had identified has grown and developed into a world-class performance, that reflects greatly on the level of preparation he has put in ahead of these Games.”

British super-heavyweight Frazer Clarke is guaranteed at least a bronze medal as he advances to semi-finals. Boxing difficult French southpaw Mourad Aliev, Clarke had picked up a cut. The contest was in the balance and then, after clearly being warned for use of the head, Aliev was deducted a point. The Frenchman lost his composure and, appearing to remonstrate with the referee, was disqualified, bringing the contest to an abrupt but extraordinary end.

Aliev sat on the ring apron after the end of the contest, declining to leave as the French protested.

Irish featherweight Kurt Walker lost in the quarterfinals to America’s Duke Ragan. “I haven’t watched [the bout] back, but I just felt like I’d done the better work in the second and third but it was so close. He took the first,” Walker said. “He’s very good, but I believe on my day I’m better.”

Ragan is into the medals. “It feels good, but I came for gold and I won’t be satisfied until I get that. I thought my chance at going to the Olympics was over last year [when they were postponed] which is why I turned pro,” he said. “Now I’ll always be an Olympic medallist. It feels good. Bronze is cool, but I don’t really like that colour.”

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