Sotomayor Collazo, hailing originally from Havana, Cuba, but now fighting for Azerbaijan hoping to bring them their first Olympic boxing gold, faced Uzbekistan’s rugged and powerful Fazluddin Gaibnazarov.
Hold the centre of the ring was the 6’1 sixty-kilogram Azeri boxer who landed the first meaningful punch of the final, but quickly received in return a burst of body punches from his Uzbek counterpart. The pair remained in the centre as the long Collazo landed a right uppercut on the oncoming Gaibnazarov before connecting with a back hand thrust straight at his opponent. Undeterred, the world championship silver medallist of Uzbekistan began working on the front foot trying to draw the lead of the taller Collazo and landing a counter, but found the Cuban boxing well using his size attributes to his advantage. Gaibnazarov ended the first attempting to rough him up opponent on the inside but to little scoring effect. The judges held the first unanimously in favour of the Azeri boxer.
Round two underway both fighter came out sprinting to centre ring. Throwing caution to the wind, Gaibnazarov began throwing at a higher volume and struck home with force, connecting a hard looping left hook that caused Collazo to buckle at the knees under the impact. The referee stepped in to issue a standing count. Being ushered to resume their bout, the Azeri stepped forward and began to fight fire with fire, holding his feet rather than boxing as he had in the first. He continued to be roughed up and take looping shots from the compactly built Uzbek, who’s tactics were spot on in the second round. The judges preferred his work and two of them scored it in Gaibnazarov’s favour, with one judge siding with Collazo.
A fire fight broke out at the start of the third, with long right hands down the pipe from Collazo landing well, as he pushed forward on the offensive as he had been in the first. With it all still to fight for, the Uzbek intelligently lead the Cuban onto punches of his own, retaliating well to the pressure. The taller boxer proceeded to quicken the tempo considerably, throwing incessantly with the back hand as the Uzbek boxer ducked to his right with everyone straight punch thrown at him by Collazo, unloading his left glove in an arching trajectory to the face of the Azeri.
By the final minute of the round, the bout had become increasingly untidy, as it remained and both fighters continued to duke it out in the hotly contested final. With the ten second clapper sounding, both fighters stepped their forward in a final out burst of punches with the Uzbek rallying to land the better leather before an end was signalled by the sound of the bell.
As the referee brought both fighters together to await their decision, the tension became more visible on the boxer’s expressions. A split decision victor was announced for the Uzbek Fazluddin Gaibnazarov, as Collazo dropped to his knees ad Gaibnazarov burst into tears of joy.
The Uzbeks win their third gold medal of the Olympic boxing tournament and their second Lightweight gold in the Olympics. A terrific display throughout the tournament from the gold medallist Gaibnazarov, who fought five times to earn his first place podium. Full credit to Collazo for his efforts would also have made a deserving winner.
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