Great Britain and Kazakhstan sent two fighters apiece to the weekend’s gold medal bouts in the late Friday Semifinals session, but it wasn’t easy for three of the four. Meanwhile, the two finest male fighters of the Olympics, Vasyl Lomachenko and Robeisy Ramirez, continued to dazzle. Those two are spooky boxing machines. I think they might be Cylons. Alex brought you the early Semis leg; I now bring you the late Semis leg.
(Soonchul Han, left, takes one to the mug from Evaldas Petrauskas, right; photo via London 2012 Olympics website)
Flyweight – 52kg/114.6lb
Tugstsogt Nyambayar (Mongolia)-Misha Aloian (Russia), 15-11: Wish I’d called the upset, because I had a hunch it would happen but didn’t commit. Nyambayar was unseeded and Aloian was #1. He’s relied on aggressiveness to win other bouts, but here he was outboxing Aloian.
Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana (Cuba)-Michael Conlan (Ireland), 20-10: Whew. What can you say about the Cuban that captures precisely how good he is? His performances have impressed me nearly as much, if not as much, as reigning amateur god Vasyl Lomachenko’s. Conlan is a quality fighter, but Ramirez completely dominated him.
Lightweight – 60kg/132.2lb
Vasyl Lomachenko (Ukraine) vs. Yasnier Toledo Lopez (Cuba), 14-11: Reasonably competitive, but not even as competitive as the final score would suggest. Lomachenko has had to beat some of the Olympics’ best competition, including Toledo, but has never been plausibly threatened.
Soonchul Han (South Korea)-Evaldas Petrauskas (Lithuania), 18-13: The crowd booed the decision, but I don’t have a problem with Han getting the win, which had to have gone his way because of his excellent body punching (which reportedly doesn’t win over Olympic judges), and because he was clever on defense to avoid taking as many shots. The booing had to be about the score — which was wider than it should’ve been — and the popularity of Petrauskas, who never stopped trying to take off his opponents’ heads in these Olympics rather than simply trying to score.
Welterweight – 69kg/152.1lb
Freddie Evans (Great Britain)-Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine), 11-10: I did call this upset, at least. Not that it’s as big an upset as the one I should’ve. Evans jumped out to a big lead that was closer than 4-1, narrowly deserved to win a 2nd which the judges scored 4-4, and lost the final round as he faded a little. Still, for the stretches of the fight where Evans was at the top of his game, he was impressive, and that’s how he knocked off the top man in the division.
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan)-Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia), 19-12: Sapiyev always seems to have one little stretch where he doesn’t look so hot, but the rest of the time he is quite fearsome. The cold stretch this time came in the 2nd, where Zakovoy caught him with some hard counters and turned Sapiyev’s 6-2 lead into a smaller 10-8 lead, but Sapiyev gathered himself in the 3rd and the Russian couldn’t afford to wait on him for more counters, with a two-point deficit.
Light Heavyweight 81kg/178.5lb
Egor Mekhontcev (Russia)-Yamagushi Falcao Florentino (Brazil), 23-11: Ouch. Mekhontcev brutalized Falcao, and with it his ambition to join his brother as a gold or silver medalist. He had Falcao hurt from the very 1st round and won two eight counts in the 3rd, and maybe the workmanlike efficiency he’d showed to this point was him just saving his best for when it mattered most. This was him pouring it on, start to finish.
Adilbek Niyazymbetov (Kazakhstan) vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (Ukraine), 13-13: One might ask, “How can this be?” but if one has watched the Olympics, one knows exactly how it can be. Gvozdyk had Niyazymbetov under control the whole fight, landing the cleaner shots, timing and flummoxing him along the way. The judges weren’t respecting that work all fight long, but there’s a difference between scoring an even round for the superior guy or giving him a narrow edge and giving the other guy the round, and that’s what happened in the 3rd to get Niyazymbetov the tie score. He won it on countback.
Super Heavyweight – 91kg+/200.6lb+
Roberto Cammarelle (Italy)-Magomedrasul Medzhidov (Azerbaijan), 13-12: It was even after two hard-hitting, sloppy rounds, but Cammarelle was the one who finished stronger. His race to repeat gold hasn’t been easy, and the hardest step is next, but he’s shown admirable desire where his body won’t quite do what it once did for him.
Anthony Joshua (Great Britain)-Ivan Dychko (Kazakhstan), 13-11: An even 1st round and an even 2nd, but the 2nd set the pattern for the rest of it: Joshua got his jab working and then would win the exchanges on the inside with fearlessness and hand speed, then in the second half of the round Dychko began using his height, crafty upper body movement and telling counters. Dychko’s nose bled between rounds and copiously through the 3rd, which offered little because both men were cautious and trying to feint the other into a mistake and follow-up counterpunch. Joshua got aggressive over the last minute and didn’t make the mistakes Dychko wanted him to, and it’s there where he won the fight.