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Rosie Eccles puts challenging four years behind her to win boxing gold for Wales

Rosie Eccles (blue) stopped Australia’s Kaye Scott to claim boxing gold (Peter Byrne/PA)
Rosie Eccles (blue) stopped Australia’s Kaye Scott to claim boxing gold (Peter Byrne/PA)

Four years of bad luck melted away for Rosie Eccles at the NEC in Birmingham as the Pontypool 26-year-old served up an emphatic second-round stoppage of Australia’s Kaye Scott to claim Commonwealth Games gold in the women’s light-middleweight division.

Eccles had endured a controversial split-decision defeat to England’s Sandy Ryan in the Gold Coast final four years ago and subsequently missed out on a place at the Tokyo Olympics when her body was attacked by a mystery virus and she was denied a second chance by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m always a very optimistic person, but even I started thinking I was suffering a bit of a boxing curse,” said Eccles. “I was starting to think it just wasn’t going to happen.

“Things kept coming up out of the blue – I got to the first qualifier and got attacked by a virus, then I was denied the chance to go to Tokyo. To come through all of this and win gold is just amazing.”

Eccles forced Scott, a former world medallist, to take a standing count in the opening round and piled on the pressure in the second, dealing out two more counts that convinced the referee to step in and stop the contest.

“I think I can take my silver medal out of its box now,” added Eccles. “I’ve kept it there for four years, even when I visit school, but now I can say I will get it out because it’s a part of my story, and I can look on it with pride.”

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day Ten
Four years of hard work paid off for Rosie Eccles (Peter Byrne/PA)

Victory was all the more impressive for Eccles, who is small for a light-middleweight, and will benefit more from the equivalent category at the Paris Olympics, where the upper weight limit is four kilograms lighter.

“Paris is definitely the target now and I will be more powerful at the lighter weight,” added Eccles. “I’m always quite humble, but I think my time has come. You haven’t seen the best of me yet.”

There was also success for Scotland with Sam Hickey securing their first-ever middleweight gold medal against Australia’s Callum Peters.

In an incredibly close fight, the Scot edged to victory to win 3-2 by split decision and after falling short in the past, he was relieved to finally show what he can do.

“Believing in yourself and actually going in the ring and doing something is different,” he said.

“You always need to believe in yourself and have full confidence in yourself, but getting in there, I’ve been short on finals and stuff a few times now and to finally sort of break through that barrier and get to the final, then going in and actually getting it done today…

“You’ve got to be able to do a bit of everything, I’ve showed in this tournament I can box, I can fight, I can punch a bit, I’ve got a big future and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do in the next few years.”

Team-mate Sean Lazzerini picked up their second gold with a win against Taylor Bevan of Wales in the light heavyweight clash.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day Ten
Sean Lazzerini also secured gold for Scotland (Peter Byrne/PA)

Bevan started well, but the Scot landed some heavy-hitting punches and was able to comfortably see out victory.

“It was a good fight and to be fair I didn’t think he was going to be on his game,” Lazzerini said.

“It’s no secret that I’ve got power and I can knock people out, I knew he was hurting and he was going for it.

“He never hurt me at all, I can take a shot, but he kept coming, he was fit and strong, I could feel that I was weakening him with the body shots and then we got the win so that’s it.”

England’s Demie-Jade Resztan and Kiaran MacDonald had to settle for silver after both were beaten by Indian opponents Nitu Ghanghas and Amit Panghal.