The only time Custio Clayton had been baffled by a boxing decision was when it cost him a chance at an Olympic medal.
That was until Saturday night.
The 33-year-old from North Preston had to settle for a majority draw against Sergey Lipinets of Kazakhstan in a 12-round International Boxing Federation interim welterweight title bout at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. One judge had Clayton winning 115-113 on his card while the other two judges scored it 114-114.
“It reminded me of the Olympics all over,” Clayton said in a phone interview Sunday morning as he waited for his flight home to Canada. “It was deja vu. I thought to myself, ‘not again!’
“It wasn’t a great feeling but there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t change the judges’ decision. It didn’t go my way but at the same time, I know for a fact that I won the fight.”
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Clayton suffered a controversial quarter-final loss on countback to Great Britain’s Freddie Evans in the men’s 69-kilogram weight class. The setback denied him at least a bronze medal. Clayton and the Canadian team appealed the decision but were rejected.
He may not have lost on Saturday, but Clayton – who entered the title fight with an 18-0 record as a pro – still feels a victory was snatched from his hands. He edged Lipinets in total punches thrown (687-610), punches landed (247-175) and connect percentage (36 per cent to Lipnets’ 29).
“It was a close fight but I believe I won the fight because I landed better shots, cleaner shots and if you look at the stats, I was leading every stat,” Clayton said. “I put on a good performance and I’m happy with it even though they didn’t give me the decision.
“But you don't know how the judges are going to act. I have not heard one person say I didn’t win the fight. Even those who were ringside thought I won the fight. I don’t know what the judges had seen but I have lot of people who said it was me. But there’s nothing that I can do to change it.”
Clayton was a late replacement for Lipinets after original opponent – Kudratillo Abdukakhorov of Uzbekistan – withdrew due to visa issues which kept him from entering the United States.
Lipinets, a former super lightweight world champion, has been unbeaten since moving up to the welterweight ranks nearly three years ago. He had won three straight welterweight victories entering Saturday’s bout. The 31-year-old’s record is 16-1-1.
“I was the underdog coming in,” Clayton said of his first bout on American soil. “I had to come to the U.S. on short notice and I don’t think they were expecting a fight like that.
“I knew he was going to come after me. He’s a former world champion. People see me as aggressive but I wanted to use my boxing IQ. I wanted show them I could box more technically and give them something they probably weren't expecting.
“I think I showed them I’m not just some fighter from Canada who came here to lay down. I showed them that I’m a world class fighter and that I belong here.”
A winner would likely have been in line to challenge whomever prevailed in the marquee matchup between WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and former champion Danny Garcia on Dec. 5.
Clayton, while unsure what's next for him, feels confident he will get another shot at a title bout.
And both he and Lipinets are receptive to a rematch.
“I am fine with a rematch for the interim title with Clayton,” Lipinets said in an interview with boxingscene.com.
“I would like a rematch knowing that I had won that fight,” Clayton said. “To me, he’s the one who has to prove it.”