Harris Akbar voices frustration after Commonwealth exit

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Harris Akbar voices frustration after Commonwealth exit
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Harris Akbar voiced his frustration at crashing out of the Commonwealth Games without a medal after being given the run-around by Northern Ireland’s Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh.

The son of a butcher from Bradford, light middleweight Akbar went down via split decision in his quarter-final at Birmingham’s NEC, missing out on at least a bronze.

Akbar, 23, was crowned European champion earlier this year but suffered here due to a freak of the draw that left one side stacked with the three favourites including Walsh, who has barely stepped foot in the ring since breaking one ankle and tearing ligaments in the other while celebrating his quarter-final win in Tokyo last year, and Wales’ Garan Croft.

Akbar said: “I thought I won the fight. I thought I was landing the better shots and looking more like I wanted to be in there, but the five judges are the most important people in the world and whatever they see, that’s what they judge.

“The kid just didn’t want to engage really. From the get-go he was on his back foot, but it is what it is, and I wish the kid the best for the rest of the tournament.

“Of course, I’m disappointed but not every decision can go your way. That’s all it was, a clash of styles.

“I just wanted to work a bit more, but he wanted to run a bit more. I’m going to go back to the drawing board.”

Akbar said coming in that he had hoped to face Walsh in the final and the closely fought contest between two quality operators deserved a better stage than a last eight bout.

He had not appeared to come down from the high of taking top spot on the podium in Armenia in April, beating Croft who will now face Walsh for a place in the gold medal match.

Akbar’s conqueror Walsh was full of praise for his opponent after the bout and said he was delighted to come through and shake off his ring rust.

He explained: “A lot of people were saying it was like a gold medal fight, but again when you're in there it's just a normal fight.

“He's a great guy Harris, we've met before, we've sparred before and we're good friends.

“It just shows the performances I've put in, like he's a European champion and I've barely fought since the Olympics."

For Akbar, it’s back to the drawing board where he will consult Anthony Joshua’s former coach and GB Boxing performance director Rob McCracken before making his next move.

He explained: “I’ll have a couple of weeks off and go back to GB Boxing, talk to Rob McCracken and see what’s happening next.”

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