Four new champions give the Rio 2016 Olympic Boxing Tournament a shining finale on Day Sixteen
August 21st, 2016 / IBA
American Claressa Shields and Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn were first into the ring, both with an added incentive to win besides the glory of Olympic gold. For Shields, the prospect of retaining the title she won in London 2012 and firmly underlining her dominance of the Middleweight (75kg) class over the last four years, while Fontijn was eager to erase the memory of her World Championship final defeat to the American in May.
As ever, Shields’ attacking instinct was clear from the opening bell, launching bursts of punches that Fontijn struggled to fend off. As Netherlands’ top female boxer came forward, Shields defences stayed strong, dodging some fierce punches to help establish a commanding lead at the halfway stage. With the first three rounds won, the defending champion remained focussed, and though Fontijn won the last two minutes, Shields had already earned a unanimous victory and a place in American boxing folklore.
“Last night I had a scare about this final but when I woke up, I trained and I decided I am great and I will be great here and I will win the gold medal,” said a triumphant Shields after the bout.
The Men’s Flyweight (52kg) Final saw Russia’s APB World Champion Misha Aloian facing Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, who had already beaten Azerbaijan’s reigning World Champion Elvin Mamishzada in the round of sixteen. It was Aloian who started the brighter of the two boxers, the London 2012 Semi-Finalist looking hungry for Olympic gold and edging a tense opening round.
Zoirov came out with intent in the second to even the tie, landing some quick-fire jabs as he gradually seized control of the bout. By the final bell the momentum had turned and it was Zoirov who won by unanimous decision.
“It is a great feeling to be Olympic champion, I’m so happy with the result. I thought I’d done enough to win,” said Zoirov afterwards.
Azerbaijan’s Lorenzo Sotomayor and Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan were next in the ring in pursuit of the Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) title. Sotomayor began strongly, winning the first round with a controlled display of distance boxing, but Gaibnazarov raised the tempo in the second and began to take the initiative, winning the final two rounds to earn a unanimous victory and the gold.
“This is for all of Uzbekistan, it is an Independence Day gift to the people who have supported me,” said an emotional Gaibnazarov.
The final bout of Rio 2016 saw two Super Heavyweight (+91kg) talents going toe-to-toe, with French World Champion Tony Yoka and Britain’s Joe Joyce bringing the competition to a fitting close. Yoka used his pace to evade his opponent’s relentless attacks, counter-attacking effectively to edge the first round, and took control of the second. Joyce continued to press and was more accurate in the final three minutes, but Yoka had already done enough, edging a split decision to win the final Olympic Boxing gold of Rio 2016.
“I can’t really explain how I feel yet, but I know it’s the hard work that pays off. Of course this achievement along with what Estelle did too is magnificent,” said France’s newest Olympic Champion Tony Yoka.