Roniel Iglesias defeats Pat McCormack, wins Cuba’s first boxing gold at Tokyo Games
Cuba began its gold march Tuesday, bringing home the welterweight prize in the first men’s final at the Tokyo Games.
Roniel Iglesias won his second Olympic gold medal, defeating Pat McCormack of Great Britain by a 5-0 score at Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. The 32-year-old from Pinar del Río, Cuba had won the 2012 light welterweight gold and earned bronze at the 2008 Games, but lost in just his second bout at the 2016 Games.
There was no such disappointment in Tokyo as Iglesias used his darting foot movement to pressure McCormack and land sharp, southpaw pot shots.
McCormack advanced to the gold medal match after his semifinal opponent, Ireland’s Aidan Walsh, was ruled out after injuring his ankle celebrating his quarterfinal victory.
The win brought Cuba to 3-2 on the day, as lightweight Andy Cruz advanced to the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira, and heavyweight Julio Cesar la Cruz moved to the gold medal match with a 4-1 win over Brazil’s Abner Teixeira.
The boxing powerhouse in the Caribbean started the afternoon session off with back-to-back defeats, with flyweight Yosbany Veitia losing a 4-1 decision to Galal Yafai in a quarterfinal match, and featherweight Lazaro Alvarez settling for his third Olympic bronze after a 3-2 decision to Russia’s Albert Batyrgaziev.
Cruz will next face Australia’s Harry Garside in the semifinals on Friday. Garside, who dances ballet in his spare time and works as a plumber, became the first Australian boxer to earn an Olympic medal since Grahame Cheney earned the light welterweight silver at the 1988 Games on Tuesday as he advanced to the semis with a 3-2 win over Zakir Safiullin of Kazakhstan.
La Cruz, the 2016 light heavyweight gold medalist and a four-time world champion, will face Russia’s Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, also on Friday.
Another Cuban boxer, Arlen López, who won the middleweight gold at the Rio Games, will face Great Britain’s Benjamin Whittaker on Wednesday for the light heavyweight gold medal.
Cuba, which has yet to have a female boxer compete at the Olympic Games, earned three golds and three bronzes at the 2016 Games, and two golds and two bronzes at the 2012 Games.
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