Olympic Light Heavyweight Gold Medal Bout – Julio Cesar La Cruz v Adilbek Niyazymbetov. – In the final bout of the exciting Light Heavyweight tournament, Cuba’s outstanding Julio Cesar La Cruz faces off against equally talented Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan to compete for top Olympic honours. The pair know each other well having faced off twice prior to this bout in two world championship finals, both times the hands of the Cuban being raised.
We got underway in the final with La Cruz ceding the centre to Niyazymbetov, allowing the more reluctant front foot fighter to take the lead. The Kazakh could not get past the crisp and accurate jab of the Cuban who timed it with perfection, beating the Kazakh to the punch. As he danced around the perimeter of the ring, the Cuban fired single straight punches at Niyazymbetov’s face as the Kazakh was made to miss. The Kazakh found it difficult to pin his opponent down in the first and the judges awarded the round 10-9 to the Cuban.
Into the second round, the crowd encouraged Niyazymbetov who’s opponent was strutting around the ring with his gloves by his waist. La Cruz kept the pace slow, suiting him, commanding the distance and counter punching the Kazakh’s offence. Niyazymbetov remained on the front foot but for the majority of the second seemed hypnotised by La Cruz and unable to adjust to find success. La Cruz was maestro in the second, displaying in the final moments why he is so difficult to defeat as he landed a punch on the Kazakh, evaded his counter and hitting him one more time with a quick left jab before the Kazakh’s glove had returned to his guard. The judges scored it a second 10-9 round across the board for the Cuban who was well on his way to winning Olympic gold.
The final round of the bout began with the Cuban keeping distance between the two whilst on the move as Niyazymbetov remained unable to land any thing effective. Little had changed by the middle of the round as the highly skilled La Cruz slipped and slid his way around the ring as he cruised towards victory. Niyazymbetov threw his best shot of the bout but only to have it blocked by a glove moved swiftly into guard and countered by the other. La Cruz landed a final left hand in the last moments of the bout and became Cuba’s first Olympic Light Heavyweight champion.
The illustrious Julio Cesar La Cruz was beaming as the referee raised his hands, the three time world championship gold medallist added Olympic Gold to his collection and cements his name in the annals of Cuban amateur boxing. He boxed exceptionally well with his feet and hands, barely being touched by a punch throughout the tournament.
Cuba have now won an Olympic gold medal in every single weight category of the competition. A truly impressive achievement is unique amongst the games.
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