It took all of about 13 minutes Tuesday for V.I. amateur boxer Clayton Laurent Jr. to win his first Olympic fight over Germany’s Erik Pfeifer, who he outscored two rounds to one.
Pfeifer is currently the International Boxing Association’s top ranked super heavyweight amateur boxer, a 2011 bronze medalist in the World Amateur Boxing championships, a 2012 Olympic competitor, and, according to announcers during the match, was the heavy favorite coming in. But through the three three-minute rounds Tuesday, Laurent also proved he was a contender, as he came in strong from the start and used his footwork and arm length to stay on the outside of Pfeifer’s punches, which helped him navigate throughout the rest of the fight.
But Pfeifer landed a few key blows to the face in the third round, which turned the scorecards and forced a split decision.
“It was a tough fight,” Laurent said Tuesday from Brazil. “The German came out to win and I came out to win also. I actually felt he may have gotten the better of me in the first round but I came back to the corner, listened to the coaches and went out to change the pace.”
Keeping calm is what Laurent said helped push him forward, even when Pfeifer landed a shot.
“I tried to always stay calm no matter what he did,” Laurent said, adding that once he felt his “jab working,” he was able to change the tempo of the fight and win. “I’m feeling good but now it’s time to rest and sharpen up some things before the next fight on Saturday. Today was really amazing, but I just want to work and concentrate on making my jab last from the first round to the last round.”
Germany qualified six boxers for the 2016 Olympics, according to internet posts.
Laurent described the atmosphere in and around the match as “crazy,” as crowds continue to pour in to watch the games. In Brazil, the V.I. Olympic team is made up of seven members and Laurent said they are all trying to support one another as much as possible.
“I’m definitely going to try and see Rex (Tullius) swim tomorrow,” Laurent said. St. John’s Tullius is competing Wednesday in the men’s 200 meter backstroke, facing off against Boris Kirrilov from Azerbaijan and Romania’s Robert Glintă. Tullius swam competitively for the University of Florida and was a U.S. national champion, along with being a 2011 Pan American Games gold medal winner, a two-time World University Games silver medal winner and, most recently, placed in the top 25 at the Kazan World Championships in Russia.
V.I. sailor Cy Thompson, who carried the flag for the team during the opening ceremonies last Friday, is also digging into his competition. According to the official Olympic Games leaderboard, Thompson has completed the first four of his scheduled 15 races (all to take place within five days) and is currently ranked 35 in the men’s laser (dinghy) event. Thompson was ranked as high as fourth after the second preliminary race.
The Source will update its Olympic coverage as the Games continue.