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Peters eyes Pacific Games title as ticket to Paris Olympics

Andrew Mathieson -

Behind the vivacious character and the cheeky throwaway lines, it has been a tougher 15 months for Callum Peters, biding his time out of the ring with a silver medal after trading blows over three rounds that turned sour.

But the 20-year-old still has time on his side between tournaments in search for gold.

Peters lost in the 2022 Commonwealth Games middleweight final to Sam Hickey after the gutsy Scotsman withstood a series of menacing toe-to-toe punches late in the contest.

The bout was not without controversy when observers remarked that Peters, who had entered the ring with a 51-9 amateur record, took control in the second round before appearing entirely dominant in the third.

But one of the five judges oddly awarded Hickey the final round, ensuring that one of Australia's most promising boxers would ultimately fall short 29-28 on the scorecard.

"Boxing delivers once again", one Australian scribe tweeted afterwards, referring to the result as a "burglary".

Nothing still could wipe the smile off the face of the teenager, who left Birmingham from his first overseas trip with a souvenir better than just a crappy t-shirt for his trouble.

But the Indigenous South Australian, known for his cheeky outbursts in sight of a camera, was equally humble to take that defeat in his stride.

"The last round, I thought I won, but stuff happens," Peters said.

"I got a few headbutts throughout the rounds – surprised he didn't get told off.

"But it's my first international and I'm young.

"Got a couple of elbows on the neck, but you have to learn from it."

Peters learned to fight in a household of nine siblings, but really found how to execute the technical skills from his once pugilist dad, also coach, Bradley Peters, training out of the North Central Boxing Club in the Barossa Valley.

He has shown off a forward-moving style to take the match up to his opponent, while executing a method fighting at 75 kilograms that contains repetitive powerful strikes.

The training, the experience and the lessons set Peters on a new journey at the 2023 IBA World Boxing Championships.

It was the same trodden path legendary middleweight Gennadiy Golovkin followed 20 years earlier to claim the tournament before a decade later knocking out Aboriginal fighter Daniel Geale for the WBA Super title.

Similar ambitions have not quite matched up yet, but Peters moved into the last eight boxers before succumbing in a quarter-final loss to medallist Wanderley Pereira from Brazil.

The bar, all of a sudden, had been lifted to another level.

Running through the Pacific Games boxing bracket, which begins on Tuesday, could be just the start of a watershed week.

While a red-hot favourite to claim gold, Peters believed there was a silver lining from nearly pulling off a shock Commonwealth win ahead of facing the fiercest throughout all of the islands in the Solomon Islands.

"At least I came and showed everyone who I was, and I'm very excited for the future," he said.

"Definitely, I can win these tournaments."

Gold at the Pacific Games – that for the first time will serve as an Olympics qualifier – will secure a ticket for Paris in 2024.

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