Thailand's Somjit wins gold, Manus gets silver

Aug. 23, 2008, 10 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Somjit Jongjohor of Thailand won the first boxing gold medal of the Olympics on Saturday, beating Cuba's Andris Laffita 8-2 to claim the flyweight title.

The 33-year-old former world champion was fighting in his last Olympics. He used his experience for a surprisingly easy win over Laffita, the 30-year-old in his first games for the Cuban team.

Somjit feared his time had passed after he lost to Cuba's Yuriorkis Gamboa early in the Athens Games four years ago.

"Several times I wanted to give up," he said after beating Laffita.

"In Greece, I managed to get there and I lost to a Cuban. I thought I was at my peak of my career then, the right age and right fitness, so that was really hard. But people in Thailand told me I still had fight left in me, so I went back to training, and now I've got the gold medal."

The former world champion earned it decisively in his final Olympic bout. Somjit then held up a photo of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej before kneeling to pray as hundreds of his countrymen waved flags in the stands and chanted his name.

Four years ago, it was light welterweight Manus Boonjumnong who was displaying the same picture in the ring, along with his gold medal. But Manus was decisively beaten by Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic 12-4 in an absolute brawl.

Manus continuously was beaten to the punch by Diaz, who won the first gold in boxing for his Caribbean nation.

"Even though I would like to have had the gold medal, the silver is satisfactory," Manus said. "I am the first Thai to win medals in consecutive games.

"It wasn't such a surprise (to lose). My opponent fought very good today and I accept it."

He did find it difficult to accept landing several punches early in the fight and not getting any points. Of course, that seems to happen in every bout.

"Frankly, I lost concentration after the first round," he said, "especially when my score did not go up after three clear punches.

"We did all we planned and my punches went well. There was nothing wrong with my performance but the judges."