By Andy Baber
Haaris Khan vowed his Commonwealth Games exit at the first hurdle will not be the end of him after the Welsh fighter was left licking his wounds at Birmingham 2022.
The 22-year-old from Penarth was handed a unanimous points defeat by Lewis Richardson in their Round of 32 bout, with all five judges awarding the fight to the English boxer.
Khan never recovered from a sluggish start as Richardson recorded a first-round knockdown, leaving the Team Wales debutant to get picked off as he chased the contest.
And while he had expected to go much deeper in the competition, Khan insisted he was simply beaten by the better man as his quest for a medal was abruptly halted.
“Obviously, my goal was to get to the Commonwealth Games but coming into the fight I was confident in myself that I was good enough to go all the way,” Khan said.
“Drawing Lewis in the first fight, I knew it was going to be a hard draw but going in there I was confident, yet he got into his style of fight well and it just shows what a good fighter he is.
“To be honest, he got the first round and he slowed down the pace. He took the first round well and I was then down a round and left chasing the fight - that suited him.”
Khan has already experienced success in his burgeoning boxing career, winning the prestigious Haringey Box Cup - Europe’s largest amateur boxing event - when he was 19.
He had long dreamed about representing Team Wales at the Commonwealth Games, although Covid meant his international ambitions were put on hold until recently.
So, it was no surprise that Khan struggled to comprehend the defeat in his opening bout - one he hopes to be able to learn from in the future when he goes to major events.
“It hasn’t really sunk in, but I know I’m going to be really gutted later, especially when I think about all the effort I’ve put into this fight and the confidence I had going into this tournament,” he said.
“To go out at such an early stage, I’m trying not to dwell on it too much right now but it’s not good. It’s a good learning experience though and this won’t be the end of me.
“I’m new to international boxing as I only got onto the Welsh programme quite recently.
“So, I’m still very confident in my own ability. Obviously when I get more experience with the rest of these boys at occasions like this it will make a big difference in the future.”
Khan was not the only Welshman fighting on the opening day of competition, though, with Taylor Bevan winning his bout to Onyx Lee of New Zealand with a knockout.
And Khan believes all his teammates have the ability to top the podium for Team Wales, with his defeat just a minor blip in what he expects to be a successful Games in the ring.
He added: “I’m not just saying this because they are my teammates, every single one of them is capable of bringing home a gold medal - every single one of them is world class.”
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