NEWPORT’S Fred Evans admits he still hasn’t come down from his Olympic high after returning to the ring for the first time since London 2012.
The St Josephs star, who won a silver medal for Team GB in the summer, received a hero’s welcome on his homecoming at the Celtic Manor on Friday night.
And it was a winning return for the 21-year-old as he edged a split decision against French champion Michel Tavares.
That gave the British Lionhearts team a comfortable 4-1 victory over Italia Thunder in their World Series of Boxing clash.
The WSB tournament, which started in 2010, sees amateur and professional boxers with less than 15 bouts compete without vests and headguards over five three-minute rounds.
Evans said: “I’m pleased to get the win. It was a close one but he’s an experienced kid and he’s had 11 WSB fights as well. He’s used to it and I’m not, but I enjoyed it and I’ll get better.
“I felt like I needed a big final round. I tensed up a little bit, not knowing what to expect, but by the end I was feeling good.
“It was good to fight in front of a home crowd and I really appreciate their support.
“I haven’t had that much time to train for this fight but I got the win and I’ll look to improve in the next match.
“It’s been a great year for me,” he added. “I’m getting used to being in the spotlight after London.
“I’m getting recognised a lot and there’s a lot of media attention but I’m enjoying that.
“I haven’t done too much since the Olympics. I’ve just been relaxing and celebrating with friends and family. They’re all still on a high from it.”
The WSB series allows boxers to keep their amateur status while getting a taste of the pro game.
Evans is enjoying the experience but is still unsure what his next move will be.
“Rio is a long way off and it’s too early to decide what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this six months of WSB and then decide where I go from there.
“It was a bit different without the headguards and the vests but I think five rounds suits me better.
“I think I improved through the rounds and got stronger as it went on.
“It’s a very important competition for us because it allows us to fight the best boxers from around the world.
“We’ve made a great start to this competition and hopefully we can kick on and keep winning.”
Evans’ fellow Welsh amateur star Andrew Selby enjoyed a more comfortable victory over Italian pro Daniele Limone, earning a unanimous verdict from the judges.
In the first fight of the evening British heavyweight Joe Joyce beat Matteo Modugno, another pro, after the Italian received a bad cut in the fourth round and the contest was stopped.
And Ireland’s Joe Ward won every round against Hungarian Imre Szello at light-heavyweight.
But fellow Irishman John Joe Nevin, who won a silver medal at London 2012, lost a split decision to tough Serbian Branimir Stankovic at lightweight.
The Lionhearts won their first match earlier this month when a team featuring Newport’s Sean McGoldrick and his St Josephs stablemate Joe Cordina beat the USA Knockouts 4-1 in Los Angeles.
Their next contest is in Kazakhstan on Friday, December 7, before they host the German Eagles team at London’s Earls Court seven days later.