Hackney boxer makes honourable exit against Cuba star at Olympic Games

Lawrence Okolie relaxes with team-mate Nicola Adams at the Rio Olympics (pic: David Davies/PA)

Lawrence Okolie relaxes with team-mate Nicola Adams at the Rio Olympics (pic: David Davies/PA) - Credit: PA WIRE

Stoke Newington heavyweight Lawrence Okolie’s medal dream at the Rio Olympic Games was ended as he lost a points verdict against Cuba’s Erislandy Savon on Monday night, but there was no disgrace in defeat.

The 23-year-old Stratford student gave a display that rates alongside the best of his 26-bout career against a rival who defeated him in just one round three months earlier.

There was even the threat of a repeat performance as he was dropped in the very first minute of the return contest by the Cuban’s explosive right that had caused the problems in their earlier meeting.

However, Okolie showed his heart as he slammed back and not only survived until the bell, but rocked Savon with his own right hand at the start of the second round.

He traded more punches, landing long- range jabs against the classy Cuban, who took some solid shots but slammed his own replies to stay ahead on the scorecards, moving into the last eight of the competition with a unanimous decision.

Okolie said: “I was beaten by one of the top heavyweights here, but took him all the way after he stopped me in just one round earlier. I will work hard and come back a better fighter. I know I can go right to the top.”

The boxer, taking a break from his studies at the University of East London, had started his Olympic campaign in commanding style, outpointing top-rated Pole Igor Pawel Jakubowski on Saturday.

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He had a tough draw, but the GB hope said: “Winning a gold medal is not about scraping by or getting lucky, it’s about being able to beat everyone. If I can beat the people who are in front of me I will get a gold. If I can’t, I don’t deserve it.”

Meanwhile, University of East London student Aimee Willmott missed out on a place in the women’s 200m butterfly final on Tuesday night. The 23-year-old had already finished seventh in the 400m medley final on Saturday, but her time of 2:09.71 was only good enough for 19th in the heats of her other event in the pool.