Cuba has had one of the best amateur boxing programs throughout boxing history, but never won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the Olympics. That all changed on this day as Julio César La Cruz dominated Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan in what has been pretty much the story of the division in Rio: La Cruz dominating through the division in these 2016 Games. La Cruz’s win, and the fashion in which he won all of his fights in Rio, should make him a strong contender for the Val Barker Trophy, given every four years to the fighter judged to be the overall best in the entire competition.
Cuba has a chance for a couple of more gold medals in boxing once it's all said and done here in Rio. Three more gold medal matches have been made after today, two of which Cuba will be participating: In the women's flyweight division, it will be Great Britain's Nicola Adams vs. Sarah Ourahmoune of France; Shakur Stevenson of the United States vs. Robeisy Ramírez of Cuba in the men's bantamweight division; Arlen López of Cuba vs. Uzbekistan's Bektemir Melikuziev in the men's middleweight gold medal fight.
For the United States, their hopes of getting its first boxing medal since 2004 rests in the shoulders of Stevenson after his semifinal win. He will be rested nicely after his opponent, Vladimir Nikitin of Russia, withdrew from the tournament after too many cuts received in his previous two wins heading into the semifinals. Stevenson has had a very solid Olympic run to the gold medal match, winning all of his matches in convincing fashion and has caught the eye of one Floyd Mayyweather Jr., who is currently in Rio scouting potential boxers to sign with.
Here is the Olympic boxing results after Day 13:
Women’s flyweight (51kg) - Semifinals
Nicola Adams (Great Britain) def. Cancan Ren (China)
Sarah Ourahmoune (France) def. Ingrit Valencia (Colombia)
Men’s bantamweight (56kg) - Semifinals
Shakur Stevenson (United States) def. Vladimir Nikitin (Russia)
Robeisy Ramírez (Cuba) def. Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan)
Men’s middleweight (75kg) - Semifinals
Arlen López (Cuba) def. Kamran Shakhsuvarly (Azerbaijan)
Bektemir Melikuziev (Uzbekistan) def. Misael Rodríguez (México)
Men’s light heavyweight (81kg) - FINAL
Julio César La Cruz (Cuba) def. Adilbek Niyazymbetov (Kazakhstan)
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