British boxing star Gavin out with weight problems

Aug. 07, 2008, 4:38 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Frankie Gavin, the world lightweight champion from Britain, dropped out of the Olympic boxing tournament Thursday because he didn't think he could make his 60-kilogram weight limit.

Gavin, a 22-year-old left-hander from Birmingham, was perhaps the top medal hope on the resurgent British team, which qualified eight boxers for the games. He was in training with his teammates at their recent camp in Macau, but didn't even make the trip to Beijing in advance of Friday's weigh-in and tournament draw.

"It has been well documented that Frankie has struggled with this over recent months," Britain's coach Terry Edwards said. "Frankie has been working his whole boxing career towards the Olympic Games, and he is obviously completely devastated."

Gavin became the centerpiece of a revival in British amateur boxing after winning his nation's first world amateur championship in Chicago last November. The team features several legitimate medal hopes - a marked change from four years ago in Athens, when silver medalist Amir Khan made up Britain's entire squad.

But Gavin has been heading toward weight problems for several months. He won the European Union title in June while fighting at light welterweight (64 kilograms, or 141 pounds), his preferred limit in every event over the last year, but teammate Bradley Saunders already had qualified for Beijing at that weight.

Gavin's departure likely makes Russia's Alexey Tishchenko the gold-medal favorite at lightweight. Tishchenko, the featherweight gold medalist in Athens, lost to Gavin at last year's world championships.

Cuba's Yordenis Ugas also will be a contender after winning the 2005 world championships. Ugas is in his first Olympics as the Cuban lightweight following Mario Kindelan, the three-time gold medalist who retired after beating Khan in his final match in Athens.

Promoters will clamor to sign Gavin if he decides to turn pro after his Olympic disappointment.

"My advice to him has been to take stock over the next couple of weeks, and I will talk to him about his future as soon as I get home," Edwards said. "Frankie is leaving a very talented group of boxers here in Beijing, and our focus has never faltered from making sure they have the best preparation and support to allow them to perform to the best of their ability in the Olympic boxing ring."