Estelle Mossely won Olympic gold on Friday afternoon to cap a brilliant year for the French Lightweight (60kg).
It was a gripping final, with China’s Yin Junhua powering into an early lead before Mossely dug deep to deliver a memorable turnaround. The Chinese boxer had managed to frustrate her opponent for long periods, but as her volume of punches thrown increased, Mossely’s accuracy gradually picked up too, earning a tight split-decision victory to the delight of the French fans.
Earlier on, the Men’s Flyweight (52kg) Semi-Finals had begun the day, with Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov and Venezuelan Yoel Finol kicking off the action. Finol looked to come forward at every opportunity, but Zoirov waited and countered time and again, leaving a tiring Venezuelan to pick up a hard-earned bronze while the Uzbek progresses to meet Russia’s APB World Champion Misha Aloian for gold on Sunday afternoon.
Aloian was patient against China’s Jinguan Hu in the second semi, with both boxers waiting for the right openings to appear. The Russian edged the first round and then extended his lead with some clean jabs, holding off a strong finale from Hu to advance to the gold-medal match.
The last four of the Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) competition saw Vitaly Dunaytsev of Russia face Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in a repeat of the World Championship final last October. Beaten into second place in Doha, the Uzbek was determined not to give his rival any room to manoeuvre this time around, fending off Dunaytsev’s attacks and producing some superb combinations of his own to make the final by split decision.
He will face Lorenzo Sotomayor after an emphatic victory over Germany’s Artem Harutyunyun saw the Azeri into gold-medal contention. Sotomayor’s impressive reach was once again decisive, and as the German bronze medalist worked hard to reduce the boxing distance, he left himself vulnerable.
The Men’s Super Heavyweight (+91kg) competition rolled on towards its conclusion with the current World Champion Tony Yoka of France facing Croatia’s reigning European Champion Filip Hrgovic. The big Croat found the occasional opening in the first round, but Yoka’s extra speed around the ring gave him the advantage over the three minutes, and the Frenchman powered on through a draining final three minutes to make the final by split decision.
The second semi saw Britain’s Joe Joyce facing the man that Yoka beat in the final in Doha, Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko. Dychko’s plan was clearly to keep moving as he covered considerable ground in the opening exchanges, establishing an early grip on the match, but he was rocked as Joyce pressed forward in the second and found his range, and the Brit’s unanimous victory put him into Sunday’s golden final.
The defending Women’s Olympic Middleweight (75kg) champion Claressa Shields then took to the ring, with Kazakhstan’s Dariga Shakimova also vying for a place in Sunday’s final. Shields’ dominance of the competition continued with a comfortable win, and she will go for gold against Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn, who delivered a superb performance to win by split decision against Li Qian of China.