Olympics: Arlen Lopez wins gold to put boxing powerhouse Cuba in medals lead

Arlen Lopez (left) kept his cool and put on a skilful display of boxing against Britain's Ben Whittaker.
Arlen Lopez (left) kept his cool and put on a skilful display of boxing against Britain's Ben Whittaker.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Arlen Lopez won his second Olympic title on Wednesday (Aug 4) to put boxing powerhouse Cuba on top of the medals table in the sport, after beating Britain's Ben Whittaker in an entertaining final of the men's light-heavyweight contest.

Lopez, the middleweight champion in the Rio Olympics, kept his cool throughout and put on a skilful display of boxing, keeping the fast-punching and tenacious Whittaker at bay and making it two golds for Cuba.

Top seeds Buse Naz Cakiroglu and Busenaz Surmeneli won their semi-final bouts to give Turkey a shot at its first-ever women's Olympic boxing gold.

The one gold-medal match of the day went to Lopez, with Whittaker battling hard throughout.

The Briton never gave up, with quick bursts of pace, but he struggled to tilt the fight in his favour as Lopez's experience shone through.

The defeat was agonising for Whittaker, who initially declined to wear his silver medal but later agreed the right man had won.

He said: "I just couldn't celebrate the silver at that time and I don't think I can just yet.

"When I look back in a few years, it will probably be a great achievement but I was just so upset because I wanted that gold."

Loren Berto Alfonso Dominguez of Azerbaijan and Russian Imam Khataev both won bronze medals as losing semi-finalists.

In the women's flyweight, European champion Cakiroglu saw off towering Taiwanese Huang Hsiao-wen with a high-tempo, tactical performance, ducking Huang's long jabs repeatedly before moving in swiftly on the counter.

Cakiroglu will meet 35-year-old Stoyka Zhelyazkova Krasteva of Bulgaria in Saturday's gold-medal match.

The Bulgarian was always on top in the second semi-final despite a spirited performance by Japan's Tsukimi Namiki, which ended hopes of a second women's boxing gold for the hosts.

"I am so, so happy but I am trying to stay focused on the final as we came here with one goal which was to win the gold medal," Cakiroglu said.

"The mission is not complete yet."

Compatriot Surmeneli was lifted by a home-turf atmosphere at the Kokugikan arena in her welterweight semi-final, with a loud Turkish team contingent making its presence known, chanting and cheering her every move in her win over India's Lovlina Borgohain.

Surmeneli will meet China's Gu Hong in the welterweight final after her win over American Oshae Jones in an entertaining semi-final.

Gu said it was not her best fight but getting through was all that mattered.

She said: "It is encouraging for me.

"Today's performance is not as good as usual... I struggled very hard."

Richard Torrez Jr of the United States and Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan went through to the final of the men's heavyweight after semi-final bouts that were both stopped by the referee due to injuries to Kazakhstan's Kamshybek Kunkabayev and Briton Frazer Clarke.