BRADFORD’S amateur boxing star Harris Akbar has missed out on an early opportunity to seal his place at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

The light middleweight fighter is currently in Krakow, Poland, at the European Games with his Team GB teammates, but his own tournament chances fell at the first hurdle last weekend after being defeated on points by Germany’s Magomed Schachidov on Sunday.

Akbar, 24, came into these games as the “man to beat” after being crowned European champion in Armenia last year, but it wasn’t to be the case for the Bradford man.

Ahead of a potential six-bout tournament in Krakow, Akbar knew that his 2024 Olympic spot would have been sealed if he’d made the final four of the competition.

Speaking to the T&A the light middleweight boxer admitted that he felt the decision went against him unfairly, saying: “In all honesty, I thought I won the fight, but the judges clearly thought differently.

“I do think he was a lot more aggressive than I was, but I was able to connect with far more cleaner shots on the backfoot, which I thought would have scored better.

“I thought the first round was close; the second round I won as I threw some shots that connected with him and the third was hard to call.

“For me, I wasn’t overly surprised by the quality of my opposition; it was the fact that I felt like I was battling the judges instead of him.

“I don’t really understand what’s changed in relation to what the judges wanted to see last year compared to this year because I would have won this fight if it was based on last year’s scoring. I didn’t know what they were looking for.

Reflecting on his performance, Akbar said: “I thought I boxed well.

“I’ve spoken to several people who watched the fight and they had me ahead in the first two rounds. That’s how I had it in my head as well when I went back to the corner.”

Akbar conceded that he didn’t take the defeat lightly, but thankfully for him there is remaining opportunities to qualify for the Olympics next year.

He said: “It’s deflating; it’s a terrible feeling. I could take a loss usually, but this defeat is a double blow for me. Not only have I lost, but I’ve been put in a position where I haven’t qualified for the Olympics.

“I was really cross, angry and upset about the outcome of the fight for the following two days, but I’ve now had to time to think about it and it’s important that I sort my head out and focus on what’s next for me.

“Unfortunately, the result is what it is and luckily I have a couple more opportunities to qualify for Olympics before they come around.”

“We’ve still got eight months before the new qualifier. I’ll be taking the next couple of weeks off because I’ve had a very tough six months in training.

“It’s important for me to relax my body and mind now, which will help me to recharge and return to loving boxing again.”

Akbar, who trains at the English Institute of Sport, will have until March 2024 to prepare for his next qualification event, which is when the next opportunity arises for him.

The date and location will be announced in due course.