Fuming featherweight Niall Farrell lambasted the referee’s early stoppage and said he was “wounded” after Northern Ireland’s Jude Gallagher brought his Commonwealth Games to a shuddering halt.
Walsall-born boxer Farrell, 24, who now lives in Kingstanding, suffered the ignominy of lasting just 122 seconds of the last 16 bout in front of his home crowd at Birmingham’s NEC.
Two booming right hands gave Farrell jelly legs and he controversially failed to convince Kyrgyzstan official Zhamila Borkoeva that he was ripe to fight on after his second standing count in quick succession.
“I’m just gutted. Obviously I’m in my hometown and I wanted to make everyone proud. It’s just ruined me to be honest,” said Farrell, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“He’s a good lad, I know that but I thought I was winning the round. I got hit with two clean shots but it’s boxing - people get hit all day. I could’ve taken 20 more of them.
“I thought it was stopped early and the ref didn’t give me a chance. It is what it is and it’s done now, I’m just wounded.
“The ref tries to do the best they can for you and I appreciate that but I was walking forward my hands were up, I couldn’t have done anymore to say I was sound.
“It’s boxing, you expect more from the ref. People get hit, that’s what we are here for, it’s our job. Let me fight.”
Things could not have been more different for Coventry’s Aaron Bowen who put in a comprehensive display to keep alive his dream of adding Commonwealth Games gold to the youth version already in his collection.
Bowen, 23, was only guilty of being too good against Nigeria’s Innocent Ehwarieme after recording a unanimous points victory in their light heavyweight last 16 clash.
He explained: “It was a tough fight, a good three rounds and it’s good to get the first one out the way. I felt good in that, I felt relaxed.
“I just tensed up a little bit as it was my first fight of the Games with a home crowd. I had 100 people here so things to work on for the next round but happy with my performance and stuck to the game plan.
“Since I started boxing I’ve seen the Commonwealth Games and I’ve always wanted the senior one [gold medal]. To get it as a youth was amazing but it was a stepping stone for this one.
“I never thought I’d get here and now I am I want to take [the opportunity] with both hands.”
The atmosphere was so lively inside the venue that Bowen, who fights India’s Ashish Kumar in Wednesday’s quarter-final, said it felt like he was strolling out for a medal match rather than a more low-key opener.
He added: “It means the world [to be out here as a local lad]. That felt like the final, the atmosphere was that good. I was celebrating as if I’d won the final, I was buzzing.
“Things to take into the next round are don’t play for the crowd, enjoy it and soak up the experience as well.”
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