One of the most scandalous results in Olympic boxing history, which saw British fighter Joe Joyce denied gold at Rio 2016, is likely to be overturned after sport’s top criminal investigator delivers a report into whether the competition was rigged on Thursday.
Joyce seemed to have outboxed Frenchman Tony Yoka in the super-heavyweight final and be heading for the same professional career that Anthony Joshua started four years earlier.
Yoka’s arm was raised instead, to widespread astonishment in the world of boxing. But Sportsmail understands that the Joyce result will feature in Thursday’s report published by Richard McLaren — whose revelations about Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme saw that country barred from competition.
Joe Joyce won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics after suffering a controversial loss in the final
Tony Yoka (left) was awarded the win, but the result is set to be overturned after a fix probe
The investigation by McLaren and his team centres on whether boxers of certain nationalities were favoured by referees and judges in Rio.
Among those investigated are France and Uzbekistan, which won more bouts than the best boxing nations.
McLaren’s team were called in when an internal probe by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) found ‘strong suspicion’ surrounding AIBA’s French former executive director Karim Bouzidi and a number of referees and judges.
McLaren’s report is also expected to question the decision which saw Russian fighter Vladimir Nikitin handed a farcical victory over Ireland’s Michael Conlan to win bronze in Rio.
Yoka celebrates wildly after being awarded a split decision victory over Joyce back in 2016
HOW SPORTSMAIL REPORTED JOYCE’S SPLIT DECISION DEFEAT BY YOKA IN 2016
BY JEFF POWELL
There were British jeers among the cheers but Joe Joyce was not so much robbed in Rio as having his pocket picked by a tricky Frenchman.
The giant hope for a super-heavyweight gold medal to put the finishing touch to Team GB’s record breaking Games was teased out of the final decision of these Games.
Sadly, there was no call for another of the gymnastic somersaults in the ring with which Joyce had entertained the audiences in Pavilion 6 at Riocentro after his preceding victories.
Yoka poses with his gold medal after beating Joyce in controversial fashion in Rio
It was to be Tony Yoka who made his own piece of history by adding an Olympic title to the gold won by his partner Estelle Mossely the night before.
The family that prays together, slays together.
This fight was close enough to be a split decision but in reality it was as good as over by the end of the second round.
Yoka was ahead by then on two of the cards, leaving Joyce already in need of the knock-out which is his trademark but never looked like coming.
Yoka had called Joyce a robot, among sundry slights about his intelligence, and expressed confidence that he would win.
No doubt he feels he proved himself right, although Joyce said: ‘I can’t believe he celebrated so wild after I feel I battered him.’
Joyce did throw more of the punches but Yoka’s accuracy largely deleted this one from the realm of controversy which has plagued some of the judging earlier in this tournament.
When asked if this verdict came into that category, Joyce mused: ‘Possibly. You can be the judges of that. I felt I dominated enough, got through his guard and worked him to the head and body enough to win the gold medal.’
Anthony Joshua, who he will follow into the professional ranks at the age of 30, was convinced he had won and Joyce said: ‘That’s a consolation but it’s not the same as being Olympic champion. Although I am proud to be the last British medalist, the one who took us to this fantastic medal total.’
For the British team this was a bitter-sweet moment.
Their cake was mountainously iced already. The cherry was hauled to the summit by Steam Train Joe and planted there with an iron fist.
The Olympic fruit turned out to be silver-plated, not dusted in gold, but in the grander scheme of things it was welcome nonetheless.
The 67th and final gong of Britain’s phenomenal Games was delivered with a thunder-clap on a rainy day in Rio by the big men of the Olympic ring.
Unfortunately Joyce could not generate quite enough of the lightning he needed to shock the rival who had beaten him on the way to winning last year’s world amateur championship.
How close did he come? If this had been a pro fight I would probably have scored it a draw.
Joyce has been nicknamed Steam Train by Joshua, his London comrade in gloves.
It is the perfect prefix for his uncompromising, uncomplicated approach to boxing. He keeps pounding along the tracks until he mows his opponents down, or crashes into the buffers.
Not for the first time, in the eyes of the officials, Yoka shunted him into the sidings.
When Joyce joins IBF world heavyweight champion Joshua in the professional ranks, the twain shall surely meet in due course. Not that they will do so as strangers. AJ and JJ have sparred thousands of rounds, helping each other towards their literally lofty ambitions.
Joyce, now that he has been nudge off the peak of Olympia, has further to travel.
There was to be no back-flip along the way. Just a crashing let down.