Day 11: Cuba’s LOPEZ claims second gold back-to-back, leaves WHITTAKER (GBR) in tears

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 04: Men’s Light Heavy (75-81kg) gold medalist Arlen Lopez of Team Cuba poses with his medal during the Victory Ceremony on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kokugikan Arena on August 04, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Arlen LOPEZ did it again. The 28-year-old Cuban boxer won today’s Men’s Light-Heavy (75-81kg) weight category gold medal match, claiming his second Olympic title back-to-back (in Rio, he had collected the brightest medal in the middleweights category).

Today, on the ring of Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena, he defeated Great Britain’s 24-year-old Benjamin WHITTAKER, a first-time Olympian whose best achievement so far had been a World Championship bronze and a European Championship silver, both in 2019.

LOPEZ dominated the first two rounds of the match, turning out to be too fast to catch. In round three, as the peace of the bout slowed down a bit, WHITTAKER fought back, winning the points of four judges out of five. But that was not enough to gain the most coveted medal, that went to LOPEZ with a 4:1 split decision.

LOPEZ said: “It feels great to be back atop of the Olympic podium. I want to dedicate this medal to my family, I was talking to them just a minute ago, before coming into this press conference room, as they are the first people, I want to share my joy with.”

“Many people did not believe in me; they did not believe I could make it. Today, I proved them wrong.”

“The pandemic did not stop me. I used the one-year postponement to train longer and harder for the Games.”

WHITTAKER, who was crying after his loss, said: “I did not win silver. I have lost gold. Nobody trains for a silver medal. Nobody trains to end up in second or third. I have lost it, and that’s why I was so emotional out there.”

“Arlen is a great boxer; I have lost to a great athlete. This time was his time. I will now go back to the gym; I will change a few things and train harder for the next Olympics. And, hopefully, next time it will be my time.”

The two Men’s Light-Heavy (75-81kg) bronze medals went to Cuban-born Azeri boxer Loren Berto ALFONSO DOMINGUEZ and to the Russian Olympic Committee’s Imam KHATAEV.

“It feels great to be here, among the medalists,” ALFONSO DOMINGUEZ said. “I have huge respect for the athletes with whom I am sharing the podium with. Yes, we represent different countries, and we fight on the ring, but in the end, we are all friends, and we pushed each other to the top, also through lock-downs and postponements.”

Earlier today, in the Women’s Fly (48-51kg) semifinal, top seed Buse Naz CAKIROGLU (TUR) left no chances to Hsiao-Wen HUANG (TPE), winning by unanimous decision after an intense bout. CAKIROGLU secured a spot in the final scheduled on Saturday 7 August, when the Turkish boxer will meet Stoyka Zhelyazkova KRASTEVA of Bulgaria (who prevailed on NAMIKI Tsukim of Japan).

Turkey claimed another brilliant success in the Women’s Welter (64-69kg) division owing to the #1 seeded Busenaz SURMENELI (TUR) who defeated India’s Lovlina BORGOHAIN in the semifinal via a sharp 5:0 victory. In the gold medal match (7 August) she will go on the ring against the People’s Republic of China’s GU Hong, who advanced to the with a 4:1 victory over Oshae JONES (USA).

In the first of the two Men’s Super-Heavy (+91kg) semifinals contested today, Bakhodir JALOLOV (UZB) and Frazer CLARKE (GBR) put an impressive show on the ring. After two rounds of great boxing (led by JALOLOV), the referee stopped the bout during round three due to an injury reported by CLARKE, letting JALOLOV advance to the final match.

There, on 8 August, the Uzbek will meet USA’s Richard TORREZ JR, who dominated his semifinal bout against Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek KUNKABAYEV, gaining access to the final as the referee stopped the bout due to an injury of his opponent.

Event schedule and results

Find the event schedule and the results here.  

Updated Draw Sheets

Women’s Fly (48-51kg)

Women’s Welter (64-69kg)

Men’s Super-Heavy (+91kg)

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