From injury hell to Olympic knockbacks, Lewis Richardson insisted he embraces every step of the journey as the Colchester boxer moved to within one win of a Commonwealth Games medal.
Lesser individuals may have contemplated quitting as, after getting into the Team GB set-up, Richardson was diagnosed with three stress fractures in his lower back which sidelined him for most of 2018.
He rebounded to win an Olympic test event the next year and although defeat to world champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak ended his hopes of competing at Tokyo 2020, Richardson claimed his first major medal at the European Championship at the back end of May by collecting silver in the middleweight category.
— England Boxing (@England_Boxing) July 31, 2022
Richardson’s progress to the quarter-finals in the 75kg category in Birmingham has been far from smooth. The England boxer overcame a standing eight-count against Wales’ Haaris Khan to record a unanimous points win while he was pushed to his limit before earning a split decision verdict over Uganda’s Yusuf Nkobeza.
Another win over Guernsey’s Billy Le Poullain on Wednesday will guarantee Richardson at least a bronze and the 25-year-old can look forward to another rousing reception at the NEC Area, where the decibel level steadily rose as a nip-and-tuck bout against Nkobeza progressed.
“It was brilliant atmosphere, probably the best I’ve ever boxed in,” he said. “These moments are what you train hard for and what you bounce back from those situations for.
“The highs wouldn’t be as high without the lows. If it was all just about the highs you wouldn’t appreciate these moments as much.
“I’ve got a strong mentality, I’m focused and driven and I was able to show that here. I’ve shown that on countless occasions in fights and outside the ring also.”
— Team England (@TeamEngland) July 31, 2022
Four of the five judges awarded Nkobeza the first round but Richardson’s slicker, cleaner work turned the tide and he was given the nod by scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-26 and 28-29.
“A few years ago, opponents like that maybe would have walked through me,” he said. “But I’m mentally and physically stronger now and I’m a much better all-round fighter.
“It was tough, he was very, very strong but I was able to get the win and I’m really happy about that.”
Richardson pointed out he is the only fighter remaining in the draw who had to box in a preliminary round but he believes that will not count against him as he hunts at least a podium position next week.
“I’m going to get it,” he added. “I’ll be more than ready come Wednesday to do the business.
“The other 15 boxers got a bye but I’m fit, I’m strong and I’ve prepared myself in the best way possible. That will show – it showed here and it will show in the next fight and the next fight.”