As might be expected, the final heavyweight match of the Tokyo Olympics offered a spectacle after which we can regret that amateur boxing lasts only three rounds. Julio César La Cruz, a gold heavyweight from Rio and a four-time world champion against Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, the 24-year-old current European and world champion, a man who entered the match with a 48-game winning streak.
The Russian reached the final convincingly, with his aggressive boxing consisting of constant attacks and precise punches with his extremely long arms. La Cruz had minor problems in the new category, but he was great when it was most needed.
Although there will be little controversy left after this match, it must be admitted that his boxing today was a work of art. As could be expected, Gadzhimagomedov decided to attack from the beginning, and that is what the legendary Cuban loves the most.
So began his dance with his hands down, and he hits from the counter. And as time passed, the Cuban was getting better, and the Russian was rushing more and more. A few great punches from the counter were supposed to bring the round clean to La Cruz, but the referee from Argentina scored for the Russian boxer.
The remaining four saw what the rest of the world probably did.
In the second round, La Cruz was even better. It’s almost unbelievable to watch his sense of distance. The phenomenal round brings two and a half minutes of dominance for the Cuban, but also the first controversy.
About ten seconds before the end, a series of Gadzhimagomedovs passed and the Cuban fell to the floor, but the referee thought he had stumbled and decided not to count him. The slow-motion footage showed the punches leading to a “knockdown,” but the question is whether even the count would be enough for the Russian for the round.
It hadn't helped Frazer Clarke two days earlier. The third round is actually a copy of the second. La Cruz is still dancing, avoiding and hitting, and the Russian is looking for a kick that would end the match by knockout.
In the middle of the round, La Cruz was once again on the floor, after a kick from the clinch, but once again the referee decided not to characterize it as worth counting. It was all that the aggressive and constantly offensive fighter did until the end of the match, which La Cruz brought to an end.
The two referees gave the Russians the last round, but the total was twice 30-27 and three times 29-28 in favor of the Cuban. It would be a true sporting tragedy not to see this genius in the professional ring, but it is much more likely that he will go for the third gold in Paris.
By the way, this is the third gold for Cuba this year, after the same was won by Roniel Iglesias in welterweight and Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight category.