Four years of bad luck melted away for Rosie Eccles at the NEC in Birmingham as the Pontypool 26-year-old served up an emphatic second-round stoppage of Australia’s Kaye Scott to take Commonwealth Games gold in the women’s light-middleweight division.
Eccles had endured a controversial split decision defeat to England’s Sandy Ryan in the Gold Coast final four years ago and then missed out on a place at the Tokyo Olympics when her body was attacked by a mystery virus and she was denied a second chance by coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m always a very optimistic person, but even I was starting to think I was suffering from a bit of a boxing curse,” Eccles said. “I started to think it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Things kept popping up out of the blue – I got to the first qualifier and was attacked by a virus, then I was denied the chance to go to Tokyo. To come through all that and win gold is just amazing.”
Eccles forced Scott, a former world medalist, into a standing count in the opening round and increased the pressure in the second, dishing out two more counts that convinced the referee to step in and stop the contest.
“I think I can take my silver medal out of the box now,” Eccles added. “I’ve kept it there for four years, even when I visit the school, but now I can say I want to get it out because it’s part of my history and I can look at it with pride.”
The victory was all the more impressive for Eccles, who is small for a light-middleweight, and will benefit more from the corresponding category at the Paris Olympics, where the upper weight limit is four kilos lighter.
“Paris is definitely the goal now and I want to get stronger at the lighter weight,” Eccles added. “I’m always quite humble, but I think my time has come. You haven’t seen the best of me yet.”
There was also success for Scotland with Sam Hickey securing his first middleweight gold medal against Australia’s Callum Peters.
In an incredibly close match, the Scot cruised to victory to win 3-2 on split decision and, having fallen short earlier, was relieved to finally show what he can do.
“Believing in yourself and actually getting in the ring and doing something is different,” he said.
“You’ve always got to believe in yourself and have full confidence in yourself, but when I get in there, I’ve been short in finals and things like that a few times now, and to finally break through that barrier and get to the final, because then to go in and actually get it done today….
“You have to be able to do a bit of everything, I’ve shown in this tournament that I can box, I can fight, I can hit a bit, I have a big future and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do in the next few years.”
Teammate Sean Lazzerini claimed his second gold with victory over Taylor Bevan of Wales in the light-heavyweight clash.
Bevan started well but the Scot landed some powerful punches and could comfortably see out the win.
“It was a good game and to be fair I didn’t think he was going to be on his game,” Lazzerini said.
“It’s no secret that I have power and I can knock people out, I knew he was in pain and he was going for it.
“He never hurt me at all, I can take a shot, but he kept coming, he was fit and strong, I could feel that I weakened him with the body shots, and then we won, so that was it.”
England’s Demie-Jade Resztan and Kiaran MacDonald had to settle for silver after both were beaten by Indian opponents Nitu Ghanghas and Amit Panghal.