Zoirov Claims Uzbekistan’s Second Gold

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     The two time Olympian and two-time world champion, Misha Aloian of Russia, forced control of the centre of the ring at the beginning of the bout as Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan moved towards the ropes.  The two pairs of quick feet and quick hands creating a dazzling display, as the boxers darted back and forth, exchanging straight punches. A good check right hook was landed by the Uzbek and momentarily stopped his opponent in his tracks. But the Russian would be undeterred and came forward aggressively, resulting in a clash of heads and a cut above the left eye of the Zoirov. The front foot pressure of Aloian swung the decision for two judges who scored the round in his favour, with one judge elected to give the Uzbek the first round.

Round two set off at the same relentless pace that the previous round had been fought in. The fighters, similar in style, because attempting to impose themselves physically on their opponent in what at times would become more a contest of wrestling than boxing. However, when the fighters were boxing, Zoirov was able to adjust his feet to maintain the distance better and began to bring the Russian onto punches, causing a cut above the right eye of Aloian.

The feverish pace was increased as the pair exchanged southpaw back hands, the Uzbek’s leather landing with more force and causing the Russian to step back. Incredible rapidity of movement was exhibited by both boxers as they continued to fence. In the final minute the Uzbek began pivoting more and making the Russian miss, boxing him dominantly from the outside. A wild punch was made to miss by the Uzbek who ducked out of its path and swiftly turned on his heels to land a counter on Aloian. At the end of the second round, the judges scored it unanimously for the Uzbek who was even on two cards and up on one.

All to fight for in the third and final round, the pair started by standing and exchanging on the logo printed on centre ring. The straight punches of the Uzbek began to miss their mark for the first time in the bout as he looked to be slowing, with the Russian gaining confidence after landing a good combination. The fight turned to become messy, with the wrestling action resuming as well as both bothers misjudging their punching distance more often. The Uzbek found a second wind and boxed with greater accuracy than he had earlier in the round. The tiring Russian gave into more tangling in the final ten seconds of the bout as the Uzbek tripped onto the canvas.

A nervous wait ensued for both boxers in the evenly fought contest, the Russian having taken the lead and the Uzbek evening up the scoring. The judges scored the third unanimously for the Uzbek who went leaped into the air in joy as the result was announced. It is the first Olympic gold medal for Uzbekistan in the Flyweight division and brings their boxing gold medal tally to two in the Rio Olympics.


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