By Thomas Lyons
England’s Super-Heavyweight star Frazer Clarke continues his pursuit of capturing Commonwealth Gold after a close, split-decision victory over New Zealand’s Patrick Malitata, in what was an entertaining contest from start to finish. Both amateurs, who had been employed as sparring partners in preparation for Anthony Joshua’s world title unification fight with fellow Kiwi, Joseph Parker, traded leather in the centre of the ring and tested each other’s toughness in providing the public with an explosive encounter.
With one point separating the pair on all five judges scorecards, you could see the adulation on Clarke’s face as he moved closer to claiming that prized possession of being crowned Commonwealth champion. The 26-year old had guaranteed himself a bronze medal when he dominated Australia’s Toese Vou Siutu to a unanimous decision but was faced with a more tricky and durable opponent in Malitata who made it tough at times for Clarke.
Following in the footsteps of his training partner Joshua, who joins him at the GB setup in Sheffield, and shared the ring sparring numerous rounds camp by camp, Clarke has made clear his aspirations to achieve all he can in the amateur game before making the transition to the professional ranks. The No.1 spot has been a long time coming for Clarke with ‘Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce jumping the queue on his quest to Olympic silver at Rio Games in 2016, before turning over and said that winning the gold medal would give him the confidence to target the Tokyo games in 2020 and reap the rewards like Joshua has before becoming world champion. Going from being a security guard at shows to reaching the pinnacle of the sport would show the hard work that has been put in to get to that point.
Meanwhile, team-mate Galal Yafai secured himself at least a silver medal by stopping Sri Lanka’s Thiwanka Ranasinghe in brutal fashion. The 25-year old, who is the younger brother to WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai delivered another destructive display to reach the light-flyweight final where he’ll fight India’s Amit. With Yafai dishing out punishment and damage being done to Ranasinghe right eye, the referee was forced to stop the contest in the closing stages of the third round. Another product of the GB programme, and showing bags of potential, the Commonwealth games has certainly catapulted him onto the world stage and still feels fresh ahead of the Gold medal match.
The home nations have had a healthy number of medal hopefuls but the likes of Clarke, Yafai, Sandy Ryan and Peter McGrail will have their eyes peeled to the top spot on the podium when the tournament is over with. Despite disappointment for 91kg Cheavon Clarke and Luke McMormack who missed out on the Gold Medal bout, bringing back bronze, they will still be routing for the remaining England representatives to go home with Gold.