Rio 2016: La Cruz claims gold, Adams on course to retain crown


Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan had to settle for a second successive Olympic silver medal on Thursday as Julio Cesar La Cruz won a unanimous points decision to earn Cuba's first boxing gold in the men's light heavyweight division.

Although Cuba have enjoyed great success in Olympic boxing, a triumph in the 81 kilogram class had previously eluded them.

However, top seed La Cruz brought an end to that at Rio 2016, doing enough to win against Niyazymbetov - the light heavyweight silver medallist at London 2012 - by a unanimous points decision.

"I'm very happy," said La Cruz. "It's the first time a Cuban gets this Olympic medal in the 81 kilogram level.

"I feel that this medal is a payment for all of the sacrifice and support I got from everyone, especially my mother."

The finalists in three other divisions were decided at Riocentro - Pavilion 6 on Thursday.

Reigning women's flyweight champion Nicola Adams will face Sarah Ourahmoune of France after the duo earned respective points victories over Ren Cancan and Ingrit Lorena Valencia.

Following his controversial points victory over Michael Conlan, Russia's Vladimir Nikitin withdrew from his men's bantamweight semi-final against Shakur Stevenson due to injury, putting the 19-year-old American through to a final against Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez, the London 2012 champion at flyweight.

Another Cuban, Arlen Lopez, is through to the men's middleweight final, in which Bektemir Melikuziev awaits.



La Cruz had been tipped to impress at Rio 2016 and lived up to the high expectations on his shoulders with a classy display against Niyazymbetov



"I know him [Niyazymbetov] and he's one of the best boxers in the world. Today I enjoyed the battle and you can see the results right now. I have the medal in my hand," - La Cruz revels in his success.

"When you've won the silver medal for the second time, it can be a bit emotional. I've been training for four years, preparing myself for the gold medal and now I've got a silver medal, which is also good, but now I think my feelings are much stronger, more emotional than when I won silver at the London Olympics," - Niyazymbetov understandably has mixed feelings after being denied gold once again.


One more gold medal will be won on Friday, when Yin Junhua faces world champion Estelle Moselly in the women's lightweight final.