Hometown Decision Robs Custio Clayton of a Medal
Day 11 of these Olympics saw a spectacular robbery of a gold medal opportunity for Canada’s Women’s Soccer team. On the heels of this controversial referee’s decision however, Day 12 marked another questionable result for Canada.
Custio Clayton from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia was the last remaining Canadian boxer with a medal hope. The unranked welterweight carried all of Canada’s boxing medal hopes on his back. Unfortunately, Mary Spencer, who was considered to be a gold medal favorite on the women’s side, lost in her quarter final match on Monday after instituting a poor game-plan against her Chinese opponent. Canada’s lone other competitor, Super-heavyweight Simon Kean was defeated in a fairly lopsided affair on Day 10. So, it was up to Clayton who had advanced to the quarter final without the benefit of a first-round bye.
Clayton beat Mexican fighter Oscar Molina Casillas fairly handily in the round of 32 and disposed of heavily favored Aussie Cameron Hammond in the second round. Clayton, in his first two bouts demonstrated that his gas tank and speed were not to be toyed with, most poignantly against Hammond, where Clayton tired out Hammond and dominated him in the second and third rounds.
Up next for Clayton was a daunting task, the number-2 ranked, hometown hero, Freddie Evans. With a win, Clayton would guarantee a medal as two bronze medals are awarded in Boxing, similar to Judo and Wrestling at the Olympics. Clayton came out flat in the first round finishing with a seemingly insurmountable 7 points to 2 deficit. In the second round, however, Clayton went to work utilizing his speed and employing more of an out-fighting strategy. Clayton did not dominate the round as Evans held strong, but as the round was nearing its conclusion Clayton landed multiple scoring shots and won the second round by a score of 6-3. This set up the final round with Clayton trailing 10-8. It is important to note that Evans was warned twice for pushing down Clayton’s head, which is a foul. One more warning for the same infraction would result in a point deduction.
In the third round as in his first two fights, Clayton displayed his heart and stamina by out-slugging Evans, so much so that by the closing seconds Evans could barely throw. It seemed as if Clayton’s awesome cardio in the final round had once again come through to earn him a come from behind victory. The judges’ scores came out and shockingly the final round was scored only 6-4 for Clayton. After winning the second and third rounds, Clayton found himself tied with Evans. Based on the tie-breaker rules for Olympic boxing Evans was awarded the decision much to the delight of the home crowd.
So what’s the issue, then?
What makes this decision controversial is not the actual score or the tie-break as Olympic boxing’s scoring system is highly subjective and unexpected scoring tends to be the rule rather than the exception. I will pass over the fact that judges have been over-rewarding British fighters throughout the games (not only my criticism – many boxing experts are claiming the same) and the fact that Clayton won two of the three rounds, which should have ensured him the tie-break given the method by which ties are settled. The above points are open for debate. What truly makes this a robbery is the judges ignoring the third warning for pushing Clayton’s head down given to Evans in the third round.
An automatic point deduction is supposed to occur when a fighter is warned three times for the same foul. The tie would have surely been broken as a result of the point deduction. Boxing Canada appealed the decision shortly after the fight. The common opinion about appeals is that they rarely work, sort of like arguing balls and strikes with an umpire, however American Errol Spence had a 13-11 loss successfully overturned after it was determined that 2 infractions should have been called on his opponent. I personally was not optimistic that the correct decision would be made in Clayton’s case as he was up against a British fighter at the London Olympics and also Canada doesn’t tend to throw their weight around the way that our neighbours to the south do. As expected, Brian Williams announced at about 10:45 PM EST that Custio Clayton lost the appeal.
Canadians were hoping that what happened with Sale and Pelletier’s appeal in 2002 could also happen for Clayton as he is way too talented and has fought far too well to leave London without a souvenir around his neck. However, Clayton joined the Women’s Soccer team having an Olympic dream stolen by incompetent officiating. Olympic boxing judging is a joke and something needs to be done about it the way that figure skating judging was improved after the Salt Lake City scandal. I sincerely hope we get to see Custio Clayton again as he is a pleasure to watch and a class act, leaving the ring with a smile on his face even after being treated so unfairly.
…and that is the Last Word.
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