Cuba reign in Olympic ring as classy Cruz shows his moves
Newsfrom JapanSports Tokyo 2020
Tokyo, Japan | AFP
by Peter STEBBINGS
Cuba won their fourth Olympic boxing title of the Tokyo Games on the final day of action on Sunday for their best performance in 17 years, as Team USA again failed to strike gold.
The classy Andy Cruz was the man to ensure a best gold-medal return since the five at Athens 2004, and did some Michael Jackson dance moves after defeating Keyshawn Davis on split points for the lightweight crown.
Cruz, already a two-time world champion and now a gold medallist at only 25, adds his Tokyo title to the ones won by compatriots Roniel Iglesias, Arlen Lopez and Julio la Cruz.
“We Cubans really worked hard in the run-up to the Games despite the situation in Cuba and around the world with Covid,” said Cruz.
“We have been working harder and training hard and also had a good training base here.
”I think that it all came together here. We are a close-knit family in the Cuban boxing community and we brought all that together to have success in Tokyo.“
Cruz, who used to do karate, was all feints and flicks as he went ahead on the judges’ scorecards after the first round.
The 22-year-old Davis, who has already turned professional, likes a scrap and was able to disturb the Cuban’s rhythm in the second round.
But Cruz got the decision -- and celebrated with some neat moves in the middle of the ring to show he can dance as well as he fights.
There was to be double disappointment for the United States.
They had been chasing a first men’s gold since the 2004 Athens Games but after Davis tasted defeat, super-heavyweight Richard Torrez was given a pounding by the giant Uzbek Bakhodir Jalolov in their final.
Torrez had a point deducted for use of his head and took a standing count as Jalolov clicked ominously and ruthlessly into gear.
The American briefly needed medical treatment in the second round for a cut over his eye.
Jalolov, 27, cried his way through Uzbekistan’s national anthem as he stood atop the podium.
All four super-heavyweight medallists, including bronze winners Britain’s Frazer Clarke and Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev, did a group embrace at the end of the ceremony.
In the women’s competition, Ireland’s Kellie Harrington won lightweight gold and Britain’s Lauren Price carried off the middleweight title.
Harrington, who works as a part-time cleaner at a psychiatric hospital in Dublin, defeated Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira on unanimous points.
The top seed was in tears after the decision went in her favour, with a contingent of the Brazilian squad in the mostly empty arena booing the verdict.
“It’s crazy,” said the 31-year-old Harrington, peering out at the assembled reporters, and said that being away from home for so long had been tough.
“I said to my coaches (before Tokyo), if I get homesick can I go home? I’m glad that I didn’t.”
Price underlined her sporting prowess by beating China’s Li Qian, also on unanimous points.
The 27-year-old has represented Wales in football and has also played netball and taken part in high-level taekwondo and kickboxing.
But she concluded: “Boxing’s the one for me and I am going to stick to boxing. This tops everything I’ve done.”
© Agence France-Presse