CRYMYCH boxer Ioan Croft battled his way to a Commonwealth Games goldmedal at Birmingham tonight after withstanding a desperate last-ditch rally by Zambia’s Stephen Zimba in the closing moments of their hard-fought welterweight final at the NEC Hall.

The 20-year-old southpaw had to survive a firefight and bring his A-game against a hard-hitting opponent who threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Cardigan ABC boxer over the nine minutes.

Ioan Croft celebrates with his gold medal after winning the Men's Welter (63.5-67kg) Final against Zambia's Stephen Zimba at The NEC on day ten of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Pic: PAWales' Iaon Croft (second left) with his gold medal after winning the Men's Welter (63.5-67kg) Final, alongside silver medallist Zambia's Stephen Zimba (left) and bronze medallists Scotland's Tyler Jolly (second right) and India's Rohit Tokas at The NEC on day ten of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Pic: PA Wire / PA Media

Yet it was not enough as Croft won 5-0 - a unanimous points decision.

Ioan’s mum and dad, Liz and Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft, were there in the stands to witness the culmination of 12 years of hard training and dedication.

And Ioan’s identical twin Garan – who won a bronze medal in the light-middleweight division – was the first to congratulate his brother moments after victory was announced.

Ioan Croft celebrates with his gold medal after winning the Men's Welter (63.5-67kg) Final against Zambia's Stephen Zimba at The NEC on day ten of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Pic: PAWales' Ioan Croft after winning the Men's Welter (63.5-67kg) Final against Zambia's Stephen Zimba at The NEC on day ten of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Pic: PA Wire/ PA Images

Zimba started fast, but although he was throwing the greater volume of punches, the quality work was coming from Croft.

Ahead on points after the opening round, Ioan continued to counter-punch effectively in the second and – although Zimba remained a constant threat – stretched his lead to 20-18 at the end of the session.

Croft was now three minutes away from gold and Zimba threw himself at his opponent in the last, only to run into a couple of ramrod-straight southpaw left crosses.

As the clock ran down, the man from Zambia went for broke, yet Croft kept his composure and weathered the storm, firing back as the final bell sounded.

As it was announced that the man in red had prevailed, an elated Croft sank to his knees on the canvas as Welsh supporters in the stand celebrated wildly.