Unfinished business for boxer Richardson as road to Paris begins

After a rollercoaster few years, boxer Lewis Richardson is determined to land his first major medal at this month’s European Championships as he straps himself in for the ride to Paris 2024.

Having initially been named as a reserve for the European Olympic Qualification Event, Richardson got an unexpected shot at Tokyo 2020 courtesy of Sammy Lee’s shoulder injury.

The Colchester middleweight, 24, performed admirably in his first bout, recording a unanimous victory over Victor Yoka of France but then the pandemic intervened and when things resumed a year later, he lost to Ukraine’s World Champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak - who went on to claim silver in Japan - denying him a spot at the Games.

But that disappointment has been put to bed now with Richardson raring to go for the short cycle ahead and desperate to finally deliver his best on the big stage, starting with the trip to Armenia.

“The unfortunate thing for me was normally, every Olympic cycle, you get multiple chances to qualify but due to Covid I got one, so I felt my opportunities were cut short,” said Richardson, who is full of confidence after claiming gold at the Gee Bee tournament in Finland last month.

“For whatever reason, it wasn't meant to be but it's behind me now. It was a great opportunity to learn and develop and I feel like I'm a much better fighter than before those experiences.

“The big thing for me now is to get my first major medal. I’ve won a lot of golds for GB boxing but on the bigger stage I’ve fallen a little bit short, sometimes through no fault of my own against unbelievable athletes, but I feel like I’m ready now to step up and win one.

“We’ve got a big squad going out there [to the European Championships] and we expect to bring some medals back and I’m expecting to perform well and bring one back myself.”

With the rest of the British men turning professional, Richardson is the lone survivor from the Tokyo cycle but he is using his teammates’ success to motivate him towards his long-term goal of replicating their achievements in the French capital.

Richardson is still in touch with several of his old colleagues, including gold medallist Galal Yafai as well as his former roommate and bronze medallist Frazer Clarke, who he credits with helping to calm his nerves ahead of big fights.

But he was never tempted to follow them into the pro ranks, declaring he has “unfinished business” to take care of first with the upcoming Europeans closely followed by the Commonwealth Games this summer.

“I’ve dedicated over 10 or 11 years of my life to the amateur game and I feel like I’m good enough and capable of reaching the pinnacle and that is the Olympic Games,” explained Richardson, who first laced up a pair of gloves aged 13.

“I definitely feel I have unfinished business but things like the European Championships coming up are a great opportunity to show everyone else that I’m up there.

“I’m in good form and feeling confident but it’s one fight at a time and I just have to treat it like any other bout.” Sportsbeat 2022