Great Britain's Galal Yafai wins men's flyweight semi-final to set up gold medal fight

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boxing tokyo olympics 2020 live galal yafai gb results - REUTERS
boxing tokyo olympics 2020 live galal yafai gb results - REUTERS
  • Galal Yafai beats Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov in men's flyweight semi-final

  • Yafai will face Carlo Paalam of the Philippines for the gold medal

Stuck doing a factory job he hated, Galal Yafai used to pass his time dreaming of being an Olympic champion.

On Saturday, he will get the chance to make it a reality, and in the process become Great Britain's first boxing gold medallist of the Tokyo Games. It is just over five years ago since the 28-year-old, the youngster of three Yafai siblings to all carve a name out for themselves in the ring, was doing "the skivvy jobs" for car manufacturer Land Rover in a factory in Solihull.

"I hated working there, I’m not going to lie. I was working, grafting, picking up boxes. Now I’m on the verge of becoming Olympic champion – thank God," the flyweight boxer, who beat semi-final opponent Saken Bibossinov on split decision to set up a gold medal bout against Filipino Carlo Paalam, said. Within six months of joining the GB Boxing set up, Yafai had qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics, where he made the last 16.

Yet it is in Tokyo where Birmingham's Yafai has shifted through the gears - to not only motor onto the podium but put himself in pole position to write another memorable chapter into his family's folklore.

"It was destined and meant to be – we were fighting every day," said Yafai, reliving the days he and older brothers Kal and Gamal, gloves on, used to drive their mum mad sparring in the sitting room. Both of his siblings have turned professional, Kal - who was quick to take to social media to laud his brother's achievements - holding the WBA super-flyweight title from 2016-2020, after he also reached the last 16 of the Beijing 2008 Games as an amateur and Gamal winning the European super-bantamweight belt in December last year.

"My two brothers started me off. Hopefully I can finish it off now," added Yafai, the 2018 light fly-weight Commonwealth champion. "Imagine being the Olympic champion. It's something that I've dreamed of and I could never see happening - to be in an Olympic final is never something I thought I could do and now I'm in it, it just goes to show if you put in hard work then you reap the rewards."

Yafai celebrates after progressing to Saturday's gold medal bout - PA
Yafai celebrates after progressing to Saturday's gold medal bout - PA

The youngest Yafai sibling, who actually harboured initial dreams of playing semi-professional football, got off to a lightning start in his semi-final against Bibossinov, a thudding left hand stunning the Kazakh and prompting the referee to give a standing count. The world bronze medallist grew into the contest, making for an entertaining and lively bout, but Yafai got the crucial 3-2 verdict.

It makes him the first British flyweight to have the opportunity to fight for the gold medal since Terry Spinks in 1956, the eventual champion also coming from a manual labouring background having been working as a binman when he got the late call up. The British boxing team in Tokyo are already guaranteed six medals at these Games - a modern record and an achievement not matched since 1920, when the format was different and far fewer nations entered - but there has so far been no golds after silver medallists Pat McCormack and Ben Whittaker both came up short.

Middleweight Lauren Price, the other British boxer still standing and guaranteed bronze, is in semi-final action in the early hours of Friday morning.

Galal Yafai reaches Olympic flyweight final - as it happened

06:51 AM

That's all folks

Another great day in the boxing for Team GB. Yafai fights for gold on Saturday and you can be sure we will have coverage of that.

For now, we have coverage of Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix and Lois Toulson in the women's 10m diving platform final here. And Team GB's Jason Kenny, Jack Carlin and Katy Marchant all back on track here.

And we'll leave you with this from Yafai's boxing team-mate Frazer Clarke.

06:46 AM

More from Yafai

We're a close knit team and support each other, we've got six medals now and it shows how good GB boxing is. All the support from back home - it's great.

Now I will rest and look forward to having fun in the final.

06:40 AM

Yafai speaks to the BBC

It's ridiculous, I can't believe it, it's like a dream. I've always looked to be in an Olympic final and now I'm in one - I've just got one more hurdle to go over and that's to beat the Philippine to win gold.

I've always dreamed about this, we would talk about it at home me and my brothers and now I'm here with them all watching me at home, my brothers, my mum, the whole world watching me now in the Olympic final and I've just got to deliver the goods and take that gold medal back home.

06:39 AM

Yafai's opponent in the final

Yafai will face Carlo Paalam of the Philippines for the gold medal on Saturday.

boxing tokyo olympics 2020 live galal yafai gb results - REUTERS
boxing tokyo olympics 2020 live galal yafai gb results - REUTERS

06:29 AM

Galal's brother Kal

06:20 AM

2000 Olympic champ speaks out

06:13 AM

The winning moment

06:06 AM

Result: YAFAI WINS

Yafai takes it on a 3:2 split. Bibossinov is distraught.

06:04 AM

Third round: Galal Yafai vs Saken Bibossinov

Judges scoreboard is a 3:2 to Bibossinov. All to play for going into the final round. The higher volume of punches is coming from Bibossinov.

Yafai has slowed a little bit. Both men digging deep. Yafai is on the defence as Bibossinov lands a nice right to head.

Into the final minute. It's all Bibossinov at the moment. Bibossinov is landing the cleaner shots.

Both men think they've won. We'll soon know.

06:00 AM

Second round: Galal Yafai vs Saken Bibossinov

Unanimous first round for Yafai - 5:0. Both men landing shots to the head. Trading heavy blows. Bibossinov catches Yafai with a nice right.

Bibossinov is bobbing and weaving but can't escape Yafai, who's speed is electric.

30 seconds to go. Referee reminds the two fighters to avoid head collisions. Better from Bibossinov.

05:57 AM

First round: Galal Yafai vs Saken Bibossinov

Yafai goes on the offensive straight away. He's overwhelming his man at the moment. Working away with his short and mid range work. Huge left by Yafai. Standing count for Bibossinov.

Outstanding start. Bibossinov can't get into this. A flurry of punches from Yafai. A left to the body from Yafai.

One minute to go. Bibossinov is on the defensive. An exchange of shots between the two men as the round ends.

Hopefully Yafai hasn't expended too much energy.

05:53 AM

Here we go

Yafai comes out beating his chest toward the GB support box. Bibossinov is similarly animated as he comes out.

05:50 AM

'Spiritual home of sumo wrestling'

Normally serving as the spiritual home of sumo wrestling, the Kokugikan Arena would be rocking if fans were allowed in. You would also see a rather different set up when it came to seating arrangements.

The upper tier is as standard, with your individual seats to perch on. But the box seating on the lower area is completely different with what is best described as square pens, or indeed boxes. You would normally sit on mats, with at least four people per box, and you must take your shoes off to sit down in them.

I've opted for a box seat to watch Galal Yafai's semi-final, joining the gaggle of photographers all fenced off into individual boxes trying to get their killer shot in the ring.

Pippa Field at the Kokugikan Arena

05:46 AM

Setting the scene

Almost time for the men's flyweight semi-finals, with Britain's Galal Yafai fighting in the second one against Kazakh boxer Saken Bibossinov.

The British boxing contingent have been having a successful Games so far with two silvers, two bronzes and at least another two of the latter guaranteed with Yafai and Lauren Price both making the semi-finals.

Plenty at stake for Yafai here - lose and he picks up that bronze, which would represent Team GB's 50th medal out here in Tokyo. But the 28-year-old would much rather be making headlines of a different kind, notably in earning the chance to fight for gold.

Already the men's light flyweight champion at Commonwealth Games level, he takes on a boxer who finished with bronze at the 2019 world championships, although he needed a split decision victory to make it through to the semi-finals.

It promises to be a tight affair, potentially Bibossinov to take the win here.

Pippa Field at the Kokugikan Arena

05:41 AM

Morning

Hello and welcome to coverage of the boxing as Galal Yafai takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov in men's flyweight semi-final.

A win for Yafai would, of course, put him into a gold medal match but even in defeat he is guaranteed a bronze.

"It feels nice to get a medal, the sixth one for GB," Yafai said. "I'm rooming with Frazer who is in the semi-final and Ben Whittaker who's in the final - I didn't want to go home with nothing, I had to make sure I got a medal."

Meanwhile, Ben Whittaker insisted he meant no disrespect by putting his Olympic silver in his pocket at the medal ceremony, revealing he felt like a "failure" after losing in the men's light-heavyweight final.

The 24-year-old was in tears on the podium after being outclassed by Cuba's Arlen Lopez, who was awarded a split decision win to become a two-time Olympic champion, having gone all the way at middleweight at Rio 2016.

However, Whittaker's actions afterwards overshadowed what was a fine performance by the slick southpaw, who won on four of the five judges' scorecards at the Kokugikan Arena, with the Briton refusing to wear his medal.

Whittaker, who put the medal around his neck when speaking to the media, had no complaints with the decision and seemed regretful at what he had done moments before, admitting he was still feeling the pain of his points defeat.

"I was doing it for everybody at home and I felt like a failure," he said. "At the time, I should have put this beautiful silver medal round my neck and smiled because this is not just for me, it's for the country.

"Even when I'm playing FIFA with my mates and I lose, I'm not talking to them for the next couple of hours - I've always been like that since I was a kid - so please accept that I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to anyone.

"I wasn't trying to take the shine away from Arlen's moment but it hurt me so deep, and I felt so embarrassed. I will look back on it later and think 'what was I doing?' But I would like to thank everyone for getting behind me.

"Every boxer doesn't go in there to receive a silver medal, every boxer in my weight class wanted the gold. I woke up this morning truly believing it was my time.

"When I look back in a few years, it will probably feel like a great achievement, but I was so upset that I couldn't enjoy it."

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