Hometown verdict a cruel blow for Colin

Colin Lynes suffered cruel luck in Paris on Friday night, when a split decision went against him in favour of France s former WBA world champion Souleymane M baye in their clash for the European light-welter title - a verdict that cost him the most presti

Colin Lynes suffered cruel luck in Paris on Friday night, when a split decision went against him in favour of France's former WBA world champion Souleymane M'baye in their clash for the European light-welter title - a verdict that cost him the most prestigious victory of his pro boxing career, writes LEN WHALEY.

Former European champion Lynes had gambled by stepping in for the contest as a last-minute substitute, when Irishman Paul McCloskey, who took his British title at the Goresbrook Centre last December, was forced to withdraw from the fight for the vacant Euro title.

The split decision in favour of M'baye, a resident of the Levallois-Perret suburb of Paris where the fight took place, brought back memories of a similar majority verdict from the judges in Milan 14 months ago, which went in favour of local boy Gianluca Branco.

That decision ended Lynes reign as European champion - when most ringsiders thought he was a comfortable winner against the Italian favourite.


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Lynes, 31, a member of the local stable trained by Paul Cook, hoped he would get a fairer deal in France than he did in Italy, but once again considered himself the victim of a 'hometown' decision from the judges at the Marcel Cerdan Stadium.

"I thought 'here we go again,' as they announced the decision," said Lynes, "I had no doubt I had done enough to win the title - but just as it was in Italy, I had to stand there and watch the other guy's arm raised by the referee at the final bell."

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Lynes' view was echoed by his trainer Cook, who added: "Of course Colin deserved the decision - he boxed well and had built up a clear lead after the first eight rounds," he said. "Once again he gave a great performance - only to see the foreign judges somehow make him a loser."

Lynes, boxing for the first time since losing to McCloskey, showed no sign of ring-rust as he refused to let M'baye take control of the clash, and took command firing home solid scoring shots to both the head and body.

The Paris crowd were silenced as their favourite was forced to retreat under the former European title-holder's pressure-punching, with M'baye badly outworked in the first nine rounds.

The French fighter seemed reluctant to throw many punches, and his most damaging reply was a blatant head butt in the eighth round.

He had a point deducted for the obvious foul and in the rounds that followed, both fighters felt the pace with close-quarter exchanges until the final bell.

"In the later rounds, M'baye tried to get on his bike and keep his distance," said a frustrated Lynes. "But I still didn't think he landed enough punches to win the rounds convincingly."

Then came the final bell - and the official decision that even the French ringsiders questioned - but the loser has the hope that the EBU officials considered his performance good enough to earn another chance.

"At least after losing on a split verdict in his hometown, I should be in the mix for future championship contests - and I can only hope I will get a better deal next time I get a title chance," said Lynes.

The loser added a rueful smile, knowing, too well after his 11-year pro career, that all is not fair in the fight game.

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