By Josh Graham at the NEC, Birmingham
Few will leave Birmingham discontent with Commonwealth Games gold, but that is the predicament facing Welsh boxer Ioan Croft.
The 20-year-old welterweight whirlwind fought his way to glory with a unanimous points victory over Zambia’s Stephen Zimba but brother Garan had to settle for light middleweight bronze, meaning the identical twins from Crymych came up short in their pursuit of matching golds.
Garan lost his semi-final to eventual champion Aidan Walsh of Northern Ireland but was on hand to celebrate with Ioan ringside before the pair embark on a lads holiday to Magaluf after a busy 10 days.
Ioan said: “They are not the two colours of medal we wanted. I know Garan was desperate to bring home a gold, but he's got a bronze and he can hold his head high.
“I'm sure his medal will mean just as much to him as this one does to me.
“It's a dream come true. It will take a few days to sink in."
Despite a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards, Ioan came through a battle with Zimba who threw everything at him in nine minutes of enthralling action at the NEC.
“He was a very strong opponent but, technically, I felt I was better than him. I knew that going into the fight, but it was about sustaining my fitness and my shape throughout the fight,” explained Ioan.
"I had to keep him at bay and that paid dividends in the end. When they played the Welsh anthem it felt incredible and I had a thousand thoughts going through my head."
European bronze medallist Ioan is looking forward to a well-earned rest but admitted attention will shortly turn to achieving his Olympic dreams at Paris 2024 and adding a World Championship medal to his collection.
He added: “I will take a few weeks off; there’s no rush to make any big decisions. I'm still only 20 years old.
"There's a lot ahead of me still in this amateur game and the Olympics in Paris has always been a huge dream.
“The only medals I don't have now are the Olympic medal and World Championship medal, so that's the ambition."
Garan, who won European silver earlier this year, described Olympic bronze medallist Walsh, 25, as a “nightmare” in the ring after becoming one of many victims to fall to the Belfast banger’s awkward evasive style.
Walsh was reluctant to stand and trade, picking off his punches and using his footwork to dodge what came back, frustrating Garan and consigning him to bronze.
Garan said: “A nightmare is the best way to sum him up, he’s an incredibly skilful boxer but he is five years further down the line and used all that experience to good effect.
“I hope I’ve made a corner of Wales very proud, and I certainly gave it all I had. I couldn’t have given any more. I just couldn’t catch him and make it my kind of fight.”
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