GOLD COAST, Australia — Canadian boxer Thomas Blumenfeld put on a gritty display Saturday in a losing cause against a bigger, stronger and more experienced opponent in the Commonwealth Games 64-kilogram gold medal bout.
The 20-year-old from Montreal had to battle a wonky mouthpiece as well as Namibia’s Jonas Jonas, a silver medallist four years ago in Glasgow. It came out three times in the second round and once in the third, with Italian referee Maria Rizzardo deducting a point in each round.
In the end, the deductions didn’t matter as the judges awarded Jonas a unanimous decision with scores of 29-26, 30-23, 30-24, 30-25 and 30-24.
The stylish Namibian was the aggressor the first two rounds, delivering a barrage of punches with Blumenfeld looking to counter-punch as he retreated. Down on the cards, the Canadian went on the attack in the third with one of the five judges awarding him the round.
“I gave it my all,” said Blumenfeld. “I have no regrets in the ring … I’m young. This is my first Commonwealth Games. And I definitely proved that I’m one of the top guys to look out for at 64 (kilograms).”
The slender Blumenfeld looked like he had been in a fight, with welts on his back and face.
Having to use a new mouthpiece didn’t help his cause. He lost his old one after his semifinal win and had to mould a new one just hours before stepping into the ring. Last he saw the old mouthpiece, it was in his shirt as he left the ring following his semifinal win Friday. Saturday morning it was nowhere to be found.
“The finals of a major games is not a time I think to switch the mouthpiece. But no excuses at all. I should have been able to perform with that handicap,” he said.
Canada sent six of its seven boxers to the semifinals, earning six medals. But only Blumenfeld made it to the final.
Montreal’s Eric Basran (56 kilograms), and Harley-David O’Reilly (81 kilograms) and Sabrina Aubin of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., (57 kilograms), Quebec City’s Marie-Jeanne Parent (69 kilograms) and Montreal’s Tammara Thibeault (75 kilograms) all leave with bronze.
Montreal’s Caroline Veyre was beaten by a Nigerian in the 60-kilogram quarterfinal.
Still, it’s the best Canadian showing at the games since 2002 in Manchester, England, where the team, led by future WBC light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, won two gold, two silver and three bronze.
Four years in Glasgow, Canada’s boxers won three medals: Samir El Mais (gold, 81 kilograms), Ariane Fortin (silver, 75 kilograms) and Mandy Bujold (bronze, 51 kilograms). Canada failed to win a boxing medal in 2010 in Delhi.
In the last year, Boxing Canada has centralized its fighters in Montreal and the move is paying dividends.
Blumenfeld beat boxers from Scotland, Zambia and Ghana, all by 5-0 decisions, en route to the gold-medal bout.
“I’m happy with how I performed. Leading up to this fight I hadn’t lost a round on any judge’s scorecard. I performed well,” he said. “I wanted the gold, that was my goal. But not everything happens how you want it to happen. Now it’s just back to the gym.”
Four years ago, Jonas became just the fourth Namibian boxer to medal at the Commonwealth Games. The 24-year-old subsequently was named Namibian Sportsman of the Year and was Namibia’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“This means everything for me,” Jonas said after winning gold Saturday. “This shapes me for what I want to achieve in life — I want to become a world champion, both in amateur and professional.”
Jonas is already a handful.
“We knew we were in a tough challenge. But we didn’t expect that guy to be as strong as he was tonight,” said Daniel Trepanier, Boxing Canada’s high performance director. “But Thomas demonstrated a lot of heart and talent tonight.”
Blumenfeld began boxing at the age of eight after discovering an old pair of his father’s boxing gloves. He estimates he has had some 150 amateur bouts.
“After 100, I just lost count,” he said.
Born in Quebec, he moved with his family to Springfield, Vt., when he was three. He now calls Montreal home.
The boxing took place in a cavernous sound stage that is part of the Village Roadshow Studios in the Gold Coast suburb of Oxenford, some 20 minutes north of Surfers Paradise. The production facility, was used in making such films as “Aquaman,” “Kong: Skull Island,” “The Shallows,” and “San Andreas.”
The studio also hosted the games’ squash and table tennis competition.
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