It was a truly golden day of Olympic Boxing in Riocentro Pavilion 6 on Saturday, with three finals deciding the Rio 2016 Champions in the Women’s Flyweight (51kg), Men’s Bantamweight (56kg) and Men’s Middleweight (75kg) competitions.
The first bout of the day saw two experienced athletes going head-to-head, as Britain’s defending Olympic Champion Nicola Adams faced Sarah Ourahmoune of France at Flyweight. With the French team buoyed by Estelle Mossely’s gold on Day Fourteen, Ourahmoune looked to press from the off, but Adams also took little time to find her range, outscoring her opponent across the first two rounds to establish a commanding lead.
Ourahmoune had a stronger third round and impressed the judges with some big rights that forced Adams onto the back foot, but the defending champion returned strongly to win the final two minutes, making history as the first female boxer to retain an Olympic title. “I focussed on the job in hand, I was relaxed and I just wanted to have fun out there. She was a great opponent and it was always going to be tough but I knew I’d done enough to win,” said Adams after the bout.
The Men’s Bantamweight (56kg) Final also saw a London 2012 Olympic Champion in action, as Robeisy Ramirez, Cuba’s Flyweight (52kg) gold medalist four years ago, met America’s talented 19 year-old Shakur Stevenson. Stevenson handled the pressure of his first major elite final well, and the two put on an inspired display of high-tempo, stylish boxing.
Each time the momentum swung, the crowd lifted the boxers with huge cheers, and it was honours even after two rounds. A tense final three minutes saw both boxers threw everything they had at their opponent in pursuit of the gold, and eventually it was Ramirez who used all of his experience to edge a tense final three minutes, and win the split decision and Rio 2016 gold. “It was an incredible final, the one I think the fans were hoping to see. I followed the instructions from my corner and was able to win the gold,” said an emotional Ramirez afterwards.
The third and final bout of the day pitted the hard-hitting Cuban Arlen Lopez against Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev for the Middleweight (75kg) gold, a repeat of the World Championship final in Doha last year. The Uzbek boxer tried to control the opening exchanges and pressurised Lopez with quick, strong jabs and uppercuts, but it didn’t take long for the Cuban to find his rhythm and range.
It was another final of high-quality boxing with neither athlete leaving anything in the ring, but Lopez’s patience paid off, feeling his way into the match and powering into a lead that he never let go of. “It’s incredible, I can’t really explain how I feel right now. I have achieved all my goals being the Olympic and World Champion at the same time,” said Lopez as he reflected on his win.