LONDON — Siarhei Karneyeu lingered in the ring after his Olympic heavyweight loss, crying and shaking his head in disbelief after his clutching, holding opponent got a narrow victory.
When Cuba's Jose Larduet fell victim to a similar decision about 15 minutes later, the Belarusian came back up the fighters' tunnel and intercepted Larduet on the way out of the ring, holding up Larduet's hand as the real winner.
Both Karneyeu and Larduet felt cheated by their opponents' clutch-and-grab tactics in the Olympic boxing tournament Sunday night, but amateur boxing's governing body disagreed.
After Belarus and Cuba immediately protested the losses, AIBA swiftly conducted reviews Sunday night, rejecting both protests about 90 minutes after the last bout.
Azerbaijan's Teymur Mammadov beat Karneyeu on a tiebreaker despite constantly tying up Karneyeu in the second half of the fight, and Italy's Clemente Russo beat Larduet 12-10 with a similar strategy to close the first round of quarterfinal bouts at the London Games.
Mammadov and Russo are hardly the first heavyweights in boxing history to make up for their exhaustion or skill deficiencies by holding, but the referees in their bouts didn't deem the holding severe enough to penalize them.
Their opponents strongly disagreed — and their protests seemed to have significant precedent in a tournament that already features two overturned results by AIBA. It overturned the result of Indian welterweight Krishan Vikas' victory over Errol Spence of the U.S. team, determining Vikas committed nine unpenalized holding fouls in the final round alone.