Spectacular day for Cuban boxing

Spectacular day for Cuban boxing

Arlen Lopez

RIO DE JANEIRO — New Olympic middleweight champion Arlen Lopez said he was happy to prove the doubters wrong as Cuba celebrated their second and third boxing gold medals of the Rio Games in double-quick time Saturday.

Prior to Saturday Cuba only had one boxing gold in the bag in Rio, but bantamweight Robeisy Ramirez made it two and then Lopez made it three just 30 minutes later on a spectacular day for Cuba’s famed amateur fighters.

Cuba now have six boxing medals in all in Brazil to cement its place in second on the all-time Olympic boxing table behind the United States.

Lopez, 23, was rightfully awarded a unanimous points victory over Bektemir Melikuziev —and celebrated with forward rolls in the ring.

It was more heartbreak for the Uzbek, after the peerless Lopez similarly defeated him in the final of the world championships in 2015.

Lopez was the more accomplished boxer throughout and the punishment took its toll with two minutes left of the third round when Melikuziev, 20, had prolonged treatment from a doctor for a nasty gash above one eye.

Cuba’s boxers had looked in danger of falling short of high expectations in Rio after world champions Lazaro Alvarez and Joahnys Argilagos were both surprising losers in semifinals they had been expected to win.

Heavyweight Erislandy Savon, nephew of the triple Olympic champion Felix, also had to settle for bronze.

But the light-heavyweight Julio Cesar La Cruz took gold Thursday before Lopez and Ramirez added to the growing haul.

“I’m very excited about having this gold medal and I kept thinking about all the people who supported me,” said Ramirez, 22, who after winning flyweight gold at London 2012 took a year off boxing after he was sanctioned for indiscipline by Cuba’s boxing bosses. — AFP