Joyce: I want Olympic gold if my fight was fixed

Joe Joyce believes he should be awarded an Olympic gold medal if the independent investigation into his defeat at Rio 2016 concludes the fight was manipulated.

The Londoner settled for silver five years ago after being on the wrong end of a split decision to France’s Tony Yoka in their super-heavyweight final, one of several controversial judging decisions at the Games.

Now the first stage of an enquiry by Professor Richard McLaren, commissioned by the current leadership team at the International Boxing Association (AIBA), has examined claims that 11 bouts – including Joyce’s – were manipulated for money or as political favours.

Joyce is aghast at the news and has called on AIBA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to act.

He said in a statement on his social channels: “I firmly believe that I was the winner of the match with Tony Yoka and deserved the gold medal. But on the day I did not get that decision and at the time I accepted that.

France's Tony Victor James Yoka, right, reacts as he won the gold medal for the men's super heavyweight over 91-kg boxing against Britain's Joe Joyce at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Tony Yoka is confirmed as the winner of his fight against Joe Joyce at the Rio Olympics

“I have scanned the McLaren report and have read that there was corruption in AIBA and that corruption affected the result of my gold medal match.

“If corruption has taken place, and it appears that it has, I trust AIBA and the IOC will ensure the integrity of the sport is upheld and award me the gold medal.

“I will be considering the report in detail with my legal team and await the decision of AIBA and the IOC. Corruption should never be allowed to succeed.”

The report found judges were often “preyed upon by those with corrupt motives”. Qualifying events for Rio became the practice ground where manipulation methods were “fine-tuned”, the report said.

Current AIBA president Umar Kremlev said of the report: “I am determined to ensure that boxers receive a fair fight. This determination is demonstrated by AIBA’s clear commitment to uncovering the truth and acting on it.

“We must now carefully examine the report and see what steps are needed to ensure justice. What is important is that we make sure the mechanisms are in place to show that results are above suspicion.”

AIBA was suspended and barred from organising the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020 after an IOC task force review of the sport’s governance, management, refereeing and judging. The IOC directly oversaw the competition in Japan instead.

AIBA has been warned boxing’s place at the 2024 Games in Paris is in jeopardy unless shortcomings identified in the review are addressed.

Conlan: A bit of me was ripped away

Ireland’s Michael Conlan was another fighter on the end of a controversial defeat at the 2016 Games, and his bantamweight quarter-final loss to Vladimir Nikitin is now one of the fights under suspicion following Professor McLaren’s investigation.

Speaking to Sky Sports News following the publication of the report, Conlan admitted he felt a part of him had been “ripped away” following his controversial defeat to the Russian.

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Irish boxer Michael Conlan says a part of him was ‘ripped away’ after his defeat to Vladimir Nikitin at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, with the fight now suspected of being manipulated according to a new report

The 29-year-old, who won flyweight bronze at the 2012 Olympics, said he decided against turning professional after the London Games in a bid to fulfil his “dream” of winning a gold medal in Rio four years later.

Conlan – who eventually made his professional debut in 2017 – said: “I was going into that Games after staying an extra four years, after winning bronze in 2012.

“I was going into the Games as gold medal favourite, world champion and with 100 per cent belief I was going to take home gold. And I believe I would have.

“I could have gone pro four years earlier and been on this journey much quicker than I am now. But I stayed around and aimed to get that gold medal as I believed I would be Olympic champion.

“It was my only dream really as a fighter, from when I started boxing. Once that was ripped away from me – it’s a bit corny – but a bit of me was ripped away.”