Lionhearts edged out by Ukraine
Joe Joyce and Sam Maxwell emerged with pride intact from their bouts with two of the best amateur boxers in the world as GB Lionhearts slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Ukraine in the World Series of Boxing in Bethnal Green.
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Joyce went to war with Ukraine's reigning Olympic and world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as a raucous sell-out crowd got the finale they craved at the famous York Hall venue.
The inexperienced Joyce was forced to soak up a never-ending series of left hands from the classy and powerful Usyk, but to his credit he kept throwing right up to the final bell where Usyk took a deserved 50-45 verdict.
Earlier, Maxwell was predictably outpointed by double Olympic and world champion Vasyl Lomachenko but insisted he would take plenty of positives out of the experience.
Maxwell, who lost to the same opponent in Kiev two months ago, went in with a clear plan to disrupt Lomachenko's rhythm and his success was evident in his opponent's frustration at the final bell.
But the Ukrainian has not lost just once over 300 fights for nothing, and his blistering hand-speed was a sight to behold as he opened up in the dying seconds to put the seal on his victory.
Maxwell said: "I'm disappointed to have lost but I proved to myself that I belong up there in world class.
"There were people who thought I'd done myself proud just by being in the ring with Lomachenko, but I've gone 10 rounds with him and definitely proved a lot to a lot of people.
"There is no doubt Lomachenko is the best amateur boxer in the world and he proved that again in there tonight. But I wasn't a million miles away and that will give me a lot of confidence."
Earlier, wins for Andrew Selby and Joe Ward had dragged the home team back into the match after the night began with a bad loss for Olympic silver medalist Fred Evans.
Selby got the Lionhearts' first point on the board as he showboated to a 49-46 win over Ivan Ilntyskyy, while Irish light-heavyweight Ward also won on points over Denys Solonenko.
It was another impressive display from the 19-year-old Ward, who won his third straight Irish senior title in Dublin last week and flagged a little in the final two rounds.
In the opening fight of the night, Evans took a horrible beating by Ukrainian Dmytro Mytrofanov before the Welshman was stopped with 37 seconds remaining in round three.
Evans never got started against a strong and accurate opponent who repeatedly dug hard rights to the body and unloaded a right uppercut in round two which dumped Evans to the canvas.
Evans took two more standing counts in the third and had a point deducted for a blatant head-butt. With Evans defenceless in a neutral corner, the referee wisely called the contest off.
Great Britain have already guaranteed their progression to the World Series of Boxing semi-finals, and will face the Mexico City Guerreros over two legs later this month.