Ramirez Carrazana, Lomachenko, Sapiyev, Mekhontcev and Joshua crowned Olympic Champions
Five sensational bouts brought the London 2012 Olympic Games to a close at the packed ExCel Arena with the very best putting on a spectacular show in a fitting end to an unforgettable sixteen days of top-class action.
The first final was the Flyweight (52kg) showdown between the Cuban rising star Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana and 2009 AIBA World Championships silver medallist Tugstsogt Nyambayar of Mongolia. As expected, the first round began at a frenetic pace with the supremely talented Ramirez Carrazana looking to make his speed and agility count in the opening exchanges.
Even though the 30-year-old Mongol was throwing some good straights and jabbing well, it was the teenage Cuban southpaw who took the first round 6:5. The scenario was repeated in round two as Nyambayar tried to dictate and use his power, but found himself expertly countered by the electric Cuban time and time again. A big right though ensured the Mongol drew the round 4:4. A sensational final round saw both boxers throw a huge number of quality shots, both taking turns being the aggressor. It was the 18-year-old Ramirez Carrazana though who scored heavily with some sublime hooks in the closing stages to triumph 17:14. There was absolute elation from the Cuban as he was declared the winner.
“It was a difficult fight. I am extremely happy. My opening was very aggressive. I am 18 years old and I am already an Olympic champion. I am becoming part of my country’s history along with past Cuban champions”. On his future, he said, “I am going to carry on training hard. But for now I am looking forward to seeing my family again after being away from Cuba for so long”.
Also up on the podium to collect their bronze medals were Russian AIBA World Champion Misha Aloian and Ireland’s fledgling talent Michael Conlan.
It was pound for pound king Vasyl Lomachenko versus South Korea’s Soonchul Han in the Lightweight (60kg) final. A left straight by the 24-year-old Ukrainian set the tone early on as the 2008 Olympic Featherweight (57kg) Champion stamped his authority on proceedings, harrying his opponent all around the ring in the first, throwing some good body shots, with two hooks ensuring he went into the second 7:2 up.
The powerful southpaw was giving nothing away to Han, oozing confidence as he glided effortlessly on the canvas to pick his rival apart with a sumptuous array of combination punches. The South Korean orthodox fighter was in damage limitation mode and used his jab well to only lose the second by a point, 4:3. Lomachenko was getting into his stride, alternating between body and head shots with some quality hooks finding their intended targets as he took the third and the contest in style 19:9.
Lomachenko told the press afterwards, “I would like to dedicate this win to my family and all the friends who have supported me along. A special thanks goes out to my father, trainer and idol”.
Cuba’s Yasniel Toledo Lopez and Evaldas Petrauskas of Lithuania were presented with their bronze medals after joining the two finalists on the podium.
European Champion Fred Evans of Great Britain battled Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan for the Welterweight (69kg) title. The experience Kazak southpaw was throwing a huge amount of jabs in the first with the Brit having to bide his time before looking to land with the straight one-two combination. Good tight defences by the 21-year-old Evans allowed him to soak up some of the early pressure but Sapiyev was in all-action mode, continually throwing a lot of punches to take the first 4:2.
It was the exact same scenario in the second, with Sapiyev the aggressor, constantly unloading and not giving his rival a moment to find any kind of rhythm. The young Brit was being outthought and outclassed by the two-time AIBA World Champion from Kazakhstan, who took the second 6:3. Evans had to go for broke in the third but his rival was moving better, faster and simply showed more determination. The British southpaw was devoid of ideas as 28-year-old Sapiyev dominated the final round to claim the gold medal with a resounding 17:9 victory.
The Kazak was overjoyed afterwards, declaring, “I am very glad to be here and this victory is for the whole of Kazakhstan. I have been waiting for this moment for so long. In Beijing I lost in the quarter-finals but was resolute as my attention immediately turned to these next Olympics”.
Joining the finalists on the podium were Ukraine’s Taras Shelestyuk and Andrey Zamkovoy from Russia, who each collected bronze medals after making it to the semi-finals.
The penultimate contested pitted Russia’s Egor Mekhontcev against the savvy operator from Kazakhstan Adilbek Niyazymbetov. Very evenly matched in the first, the two southpaws were simply getting a feel for each other, the tall 27-year-old European Champion from Russia tried to take the initiative with the jab but each time he went forward he was on the receiving end of some slick counter-punching, Niyazymbetov confidently taking the first 4:3.
In the second, 2009 AIBA World Champion Mekhontcev was getting through, landing some powerful shots, a huge right hand and a big left hook connected as he clawed his way back to parity going into the final round. It was a fitting finale as the two went for it, the Russian seemingly connecting with some cleaner shots, the jab and the left hook continuing to produce results.
In a frenetic final few moments, the two went toe-to-toe in search of the win, trading blows in the center of the ring. The scores were level at 15:15 after three rounds and also after count-back so it went to the judges’ choice, who in the end favored Egor Mekhontcev. The Russian claiming his country’s only boxing Olympic gold this year.
Esquiva Falcao Florentino of Brazil and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk were there to get their hands on the bronze medals they had earned by making it to the last four.
The noise levels at the ExCeL went through the roof as the announcer called out Great Britain’s Anthony Joshua and reigning Olympic Champion and two-time AIBA World Champion Roberto Cammarelle of Italy for the Super Heavyweight (91+kg) final. Making that jab do the work in the early exchanges, 22-year-old Joshua was looking comfortable, connecting with a cute left hook in the process.
The Italian southpaw, ten years Joshua’s senior, was mindful of the power of the local fighter and after walking onto another left hook, Cammarelle cornered his rival and unloaded some hard combinations to take the high scoring first 6:5. Joshua was showing a lot of respect to the 2008 Beijing Games gold medalist in the second, but the round burst into life when he landed a big left hook and Cammarelle sprung into life again to unleash a flurry of punching to go into the third with a three point cushion.
The Italian had a swagger about him and was landing some sly shots but Joshua was coming back with the big right hand as the crowd went wild at the spectacle. The closing stages saw the two go toe-to-toe in a fitting finale. Joshua’s succession of hard rights ensuring he clawed back his deficit to win 18:18 on count-back.
The bronze medals went to Ivan Dychko of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan’s reigning AIBA World Champion Magomedrasul Medzhidov.