Galal Yafai will fight for an Olympic gold medal on Saturday after a thrilling flyweight semifinal victory over Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov at Kokugikan Arena.
“It’s crazy, it’s like a dream,” Yafai told the BBC after a fight that left his opponent distraught.
It was an explosive fight that Yafai started with an adrenal gauntlet of precision punches, swarming all over Bibossinov. This early barrage led to a permanent count for the Kazakh as Yafai grabbed him with a right hand.
From there it was a battle for space, with both fighters trying to assert their own will as to where it would go. Yafai managed to get through the first round at close range and swept the judges’ cards.
But Bibossinov is a chic fighter and he kept his opponent at a more comfortable distance in the second round, knocking out Yafai from a distance and taking him 3-2.
That left a decider in the third round and it was breathtaking, with the two relentlessly attacking and Bibossinov hitting each other to a state of exhaustion. Yafai’s tight work seemed enough to win, although there was the particular spectacle of Bibossinov raising his arms in triumph 10 seconds before the end, much to Yafai’s apparent bewilderment.
Yafai made the decision, leaving Bibossinov in tears, although he recovered in time to congratulate the winning corner. Yafai is now assured of at least a silver medal when he fights Filipino Carlo Paalam.
He comes from a fighting background: his brothers, Gamal and Kal, are professional boxers, and they grew up training in the family home, an informal formation that Yafai says has filled all the gaps in his years. amateur while he sometimes concentrated. on football. He looks like a very talented and very confident flyweight.
Paalam also made his way, offering the prospect of an explosive final. Britain are certain to win five boxing medals at these Games, although none have yet been a gold medal.
On the women’s side, Kellie Harrington of Ireland reached the final of the lightweight competition with a split victory over Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand, who beat Caroline Dubois of Team GB in the previous round.