The most agonising few seconds of my life – Anthony Ogogo
AFTER the blood, sweat, tears and 11 years of sacrifice, Anthony Ogogo’s Olympic hopes came down to a computer.
Having clawed back an amazing eight-point deficit in the final round of his European Olympic Qualifying quarter-final bout with Georgian, Jaba Khositashvili, to level 14-14, it was left to the much-maligned countback system to record who had thrown the most punches.
But make no mistake about it, had Ogogo given anything less than 100 per cent in that final round, his Olympic dream would have gone up in smoke.
“The end of the quarter final was the most agonising few seconds of my life,” recalled Ogogo, who clinched his Olympic place by winning his semi-final and clinching his berth in the final, which he then pulled out of with a slight shoulder injury.
“I had lost to the Georgian in last year’s European Championships by one point, with one good arm (prior to Ogogo’s shoulder operation in October 2011), so I went into the ring thinking I could win comfortably, without being complacent.”
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But the fight did not materialise as Ogogo may have envisaged, with Khositashvili utilising a whole host of controversial tactics to try and get the upper hand on the Lowestoft middleweight.
And it almost worked. The referee chose not to deduct Khositashvili any points and it was left to the former Kirkley High School pupil to go for the jugular in the final round.
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“His tactics were to rough me up. It was a horrible fight to watch and be a part of,” said the 2010 Commonwealth silver medalist.
“He ran at me from the opening bell and was head-butting me, elbowing me and pushing my head up in clinches. “He was given so much leeway when he should have really been disqualified.
“In the second round when he was trying to head-butt me I was trying to keep him close and he was using his elbow when he was throwing upper-cuts. I was deducted points for holding when the ref should have really given him a warning at least.
“I was six points down going into the third round and with the two-point deduction it became eight.
“I had not boxed well but I was determined not to miss out again like I had at the World Championships in September so I just threw punch after punch for three minutes.
“At the start of the third, he came at me with a right hand and a left hook that caught me flush on the chin, so I took him into the middle of the ring. “He was tiring, I was getting stronger and I managed to pull through.
“Coming back from that deficit just doesn’t happen and looking back now it was amazing but I don’t want to be in that situation again.”
Ironically that quarter-final was the toughest of the three bouts Ogogo encountered in Turkey despite not being the one that sealed his Olympic qualification.
He went on to defeat Belarus’ Vitali Bandarenka in the last-four, 14-7, having secured a first round win against Macedonia’s Fatlum Zuta in the last 16.
“It was the toughest fight of my life (referring to the bout against the Georgian),” said the former Junior Olympics gold medallist.
“I invested a lot of emotion in that fight as he was the guy that beat me in a previous European Championships.”
Ogogo’s semi-final victory earned his spot in London and, as a precaution, he pulled out of the final with home favourite Adem Kilicci after feeling a twinge in the shoulder that he underwent surgery on in October.
“I qualified and immediately I began thinking about winning an Olympic gold,” said Ogogo, who was advised to rest his shoulder for anything between six months and a year before getting back into the ring.
“I was not that excited and, without being arrogant, I had got to the place where I thought I always would.
“I think my mum and my sisters were more excited than me!”