LONDON (Reuters) - Oleksandr Usyk won Ukraine’s first boxing gold medal of the London Games on Saturday leaving Italy’s Clemente Russo to pick up a second successive heavyweight silver medal.
Ukraine dominated last year’s world championships, taking home four gold medals including one for Usyk, as they seek to muscle their way to the top of the amateur game.
Usyk, who at 190 centimeters (6 feet 3 inches) enjoyed a nine centimeter height advantage over the Italian, boxed cautiously for the first round and paid the price as the awkward Russo caught the him with some swiping left hands.
Russo, one of the poster boys of the Olympic boxing governing body’s new professional league, may have ridden his luck to reach Saturday’s final but he showed far more guile than in previous bouts to chalk up a two point lead.
However the big Ukrainian opened up in the second round and showed more of the aggression that saw him thoroughly punish Bulgaria’s Tervel Pulev in the semi-finals to peg back Russo’s advantage and go into the final round level.
With both fighters out on their feet, Usyk, who like team mate Berinchyk, sports one of the oddest haircuts at the Olympics, delivered some decisive big left hooks in the final minute to take the contest 14-11.
Usyk danced his now customary elaborate victory jig when the score was announced, adding an extra spin or two this time and he will likely be celebrating again on Sunday when team mate and hot favorite Vasyl Lomachenko fights for his second Olympic gold in a row.
Losing semi-finalists Pulev and Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan took bronze.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Michael Holden