Aussie flyweight boxer Alex Winwood has been robbed of a chance to claim a Commonwealth Games medal after the referee inexplicably waved the fight off following an early second round knockdown.
Fighting in the quarterfinals against Zambia’s Patrick Chinyemba, Winwood had won the first round on four of the five judges cards.
But 15 seconds into the second round, Chinyemba landed a huge one-two which left the Aussie on the canvas.
Winwood leapt straight back to his feet and headed for the corner. Although he didn’t stumble and seemed fine, the referee waved the fight off after counting to just three.
Channel 7 commentator Jon Harker was baffled by the quick decision.
“Oh no, hang on — she has waved it away already,” he said. “I find that impossible to believe. Absolutely impossible to believe.”
Tokyo bronze medallist turned professional boxer Harry Garside added: “It’s heartbreaking for Alex.”
Harker continued: “She didn’t give him a chance to get up, she was waving it away before he got to his feet. And look at the way he is walking, not a problem whatsoever.”
“That fight should not have been stopped. I’m not saying he was going to go on and win, who knows? But that is not a stoppage.”
Garside responded: “Yeah, no way known is that a stoppage. You got to give him time to get up and do the eight-count and then look into his eyes.”
“ … And look at him and see whether he walks forward, see whether he wants to continue, see whether he wants to continue, see whether his legs are clear. That’s an outrage,” Harker finished.
It was a moment that shocked everyone, including the fighters.
The look on Winwood’s face said it all, while Chinyemba had walked to a neutral corner and looked ready to continue.
Chinyemba had defeated Winwood in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics last year as well.
Despite his shock, Winwood went to congratulate Chinyemba and his corner for the win and was respectful when speaking after the fight.
“I think it was a pretty fast call,” Winwood said on Channel 7.
“There’s been a lot of quick stoppages in this tournament, but you know, I won the first round, and I felt like I won it quite clearly. And I wasn’t hurt previously. Nor was I punched quite significantly.
“I just really wanted to have a shot and prove for myself, after going down. I know what I’m made of, I wanted to show Australia and the world what Australians are made of, we have a dig and once I got up, that was the first thing on my mind. I was like ‘okay, I went down but here is for the Aussies, here is for the black fellas, we are going to show them what we are made of’.
“Obviously I didn’t get an opportunity to do that, but it is what it is.”
Winwood said he had been training with the Andrew and Jason Moloney in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games and that he “felt like I was a more complete fighter than at Tokyo”.
But at 25, he’s going to move into the professional realm rather than to focus on getting through to the Paris Olympics.
Despite holding it together throughout his interview and the in-ring debacle, the proud Noongar man’s voice broke when he spoke directly to those at home.
“Thank you, thank you Australia, youse mean so much to me, from the bottom of my heart, as an Indigenous Australian I love youse all — up the Aussies. Thanks mate,” Winwood said.
Garside told Seven the post-fight interview from Winwood “gave me shivers”.
“It’s always sad after a decision like that,” he said. “It wasn’t hurt. He did turn his back, so I do give the referee a bit of empathy there, but I think you’ve got to wait until the opponent gets up.
“Until Alex gets up and then give him eight seconds and look into his eyes and see where his legs are, if he is moving around. She waves it off way too prematurely.
“I’m a firm believer she did the wrong decision there. She could have given Alex eight seconds to recover, he looked fine. He was surprised. He was totally fine and you’ve got to look into the fighter’s eyes, that’s where you’ll see if he is dazed or rocked. It’s always in the eyes. She didn’t get a chance to do that.”