Saturday, October 9, 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010: Haroon Khan says he proved GB selectors wrong

Haroon Khan guaranteed a Commonwealth Games medal at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi insisting beating a British Olympic squad fighter gave him more satisfaction than knowing he will head home with at least bronze.

The 19 year-old, brother of world champion Amir Khan, wearing the vest of Pakistan, squeezed past Welshman Andrew Selby on countback after a tight 3-3 draw, then said he felt vindicated after alleging he had been frozen out of the Great Britain squad.

Khan said: "This is what I wanted to do - get a medal and beat a lad from the Great Britain podium squad. I've done that and proved them wrong. It [beating a Briton] is more important than the medal."

Responding to comments made by Selby after the previous round in which the Welshman said Khan was not worthy of a podium squad place, Khan said: "Selby said he battered me in sparring - well look what happened then.

"My hand was lifted and I'm just so proud. My job was to come here and prove the selectors wrong and I've done that. I've got a medal at 52kg and the British lad hasn't got it. I wanted a medal to prove I'm good enough and I've done that."

Khan took the lead with a left hand through Selby's tight guard in the opening round, but a good left in return allowed the Welshman, whose more accurate shots lacked power, to draw level.

A crisp counter-punching right from Khan put him back in front in round two but Selby's dogged persistence paid off with a second equalising punch towards the end of the round, setting up a dramatic finale.

Both fighters exchanged single points again in the third with Khan's looser, more powerful performance ultimately catching the eye of the judges and sending him through to a semi-final against India's Suranjoy Mayengbam.

Khan has yet to decide whether he will remain an amateur or turn pro but father Shah, who was watching ringside, is hoping he will compete in London in the colours of Pakistan.

“I’d love him to be at the Olympic Games because it’s every youngster’s dream,” he said. “As a parent, I’ve seen Amir there and I’d also like to see Haroon there and hopefully win a medal.”

But Khan senior hit out at Rob McCracken, the GB Boxing performance director and head coach of the England team in Delhi, accusing him of excluding his son without even seeing him box.

“He has not seen Haroon box at all,” he said. “All he’s seen is paperwork. He’s seen the paperwork that says Haroon got beaten at a certain stage, but that means nothing.

“If kids like Haroon get pushed away at an early stage, he [McCracken] doesn’t get to see these guys. McCracken’s never seen Haroon in a camp, so how can he pick a team when he doesn’t know about the guys?”

Haroon, who is keeping in constant touch with Amir at his training camp in the Philippines where he is preparing for his WBA light welterweight defence in December, said: “My message to the selectors is to keep their eyes open because there is so much talent out there in England.”

Meanwhile, England light heavyweight Obed Mbwakongo landed a last-second punch to become the first fighter to beat an Indian at the Games, defeating Dinesh Kumar 9-8.

His victory followed a controversial loss for English bantamweight Iain Weaver at the hands of India’s Akhil Kumar. Weaver claimed he was “stitched up” by poor judging decisions as he went down 11-6.

Middlesbrough heavyweight Simon Vallily opened his Commonwealth campaign with a first-round knock-out of Dominic Winrow, of the Isle of Man.

There were worrying scenes when Glasgow boxer Joe Ham collapsed following his 14-11 bantamweight defeat by Namibia’s Sakaria Lukas.

The 19-year-old was preparing to talk to reporters when his legs gave way. He was unconscious for five minutes before he eventually came round and was taken by stretcher to an ambulance.

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