Yafai and McGrail qualify before Olympic qualifiers suspended

March 16, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny


The Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier in London was suspended after day two’s action at the Copper Box Arena because of the worsening Coronavirus pandemic – but not before considerable GB success.

Four boxers who have come through the England Talent pathway were in action – and two of them secured qualification fir Tokyo 2020.

First to do so was Galal Yafai, who beat Russian Rasul Saliev by unanimous decision at Men’s Flyweight (Under 52kg).

“I always give it my best and today I showed that,” said the Birmingham City boxer. “I’m buzzing to come out with the win and my ticket for Tokyo.

Everton Red Triangle’s Peter McGrail, boxing at Men’s Featherweight (Under 57kg), was also a unanimous winner to secure his place in Japan.

He beat the Czech Republic’s Kevin Godla and said: “I knew in the back of my mind I was good enough, and now I can tell people I’m actually going to the Olympics!”

Two other GB prospects were victorious to put themselves one bout away from Olympic qualification.

In the morning session, mum-of-three Charley Davison was delighted to win by unanimous decision against Ireland’s Carly McNaul at Women’s Flyweight (Under 51kg).

“I’m always hard on myself and you’ve always got to improve on things – I’ll never stop learning,” said the Attleborough boxer.

“I will have had about 20 members of my friends and family all huddled in my living room watching on the big screen!”

Another who needs just one more win to secure his place at The Games is Lewis Richardson after the Colchester Middleweight (Under 75kg) defeated Victor Yoka, again claiming a unanimous verdict.

He said: The bout was amazing and to get the win was even better.

“To be able to compete in London and be a home country boxer was an incredible experience.”

During the day’s boxing it emerged that the rest of the qualifying tournament would be suspended and was announced by the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) ‘In light of the constantly changing landscape worldwide.’

It has also postponed the Americas and final world qualifiers, which were scheduled to take place in May.

The statement said: “Safeguarding the well-being of the athletes, officials and all other participants is a top priority for the BTF.

“The decision to suspend the event today was taken amid increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures, in order to allow the participants from over 60 countries to adjust their travel plans and return home.

“The BTF will continue to evaluate the situation daily, aiming to complete the distribution of the remaining Tokyo 2020 boxing quota places in May and June, and it will inform all stakeholders as soon as more information is available.”