By Jake Donovan
The heavyweight division accounts for the final action of an active Sunday in the amateur boxing world. The four-bout session also produced the competition's greatest ratio of poor decisions to watchable fights.
The first heavyweight to advance to the semifinals is defending World Amateur champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine, who was awarded a controversial 17-13 win over Artur Beterbiyev of Russia.
Usyk was making his first appearance of the 2012 Oympics after receiving an opening round bye. Ring rust was evident throughout the contest, as Usyk seemed to be given the benefit of the doubt more so than actually earning a trip to the medal round.
Beterbiyev was the better fighter throughout the contest, including a second round in which a body shot shook Usyk, drawing a standing eight count. However, Usyk joined the last laugh. The official knockdown only scored one point for his opponent, but the Ukrainian was awarded two points after Beterbiyev was issued a warning for a low blow - a puzzling call since the very same punch produced the knockdown call.
The two points granted to Usyk gave him a three-point margin for the round after having fought to a 3-3 tie to start the contest. The strange scoring all but sealed Beterbiyev's fate, who was viewed as losing the final round as well and thus, the fight.
Usyk gives Ukraine its first guaranteed medal, as four more fighters still have a shot in the quarterfinals of their respective weight classes. His next opponent will be Tervel Pulev of Bulgaria, who overcame frequent wardrobe malfunctions to score a 13-10 win over Yamil Peralta of Argentina.
There wasn't much in the way of action. The heavyweight bout will be better remembered for perhaps a record number of timeouts called in order to tuck in the jersey tops of each fighter. Little separated the two in terms of offensive output, with a three-point advantage enjoyed by Pulev in the second round proving to be the margin of victory.
Clemente Russo of Italy is back after capturing Olympic Silver in the 2008 Beijing Games. His style through two rounds of competition in this year's competition has left a lot to be desired thus far, but has worked his way to a guaranteed second straight medal after a 12-10 win over Jose Larduet of Cuba.
The bout seemed more appropriate for a wrestling match than a boxing ring, as there were far more takedowns than punches landed. Russo was booed for his excessive grappling throughout the contest, but never warned or penalized.
He now moves on to the semifinals and is one win away from at least duplicating his run in the 2008 Olympics. Next up is
Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who narrowly escaped disqualification as he is thrusted to the medal round after winning a countback in a 19-19 tie with Siarhei Karneyeu of Belarus.
Mammadov was issued warnings in rounds two and three for excessive holding. Three warnings equate a disqualification, but Mammadov managed to avoid that last strike long enough to crawl to the finish line.
Karneyeu found himself in a deep hole early on, but clawed his way back. The four additional points should have been more than enough to secure the victory, but instead was only enough to even up the score and send to tiebreaker. Mammadov was determined to have scored more points in the eyes of the three remaining judges after the highest and lowest scores were thrown out.
What will be thrown out after these games is the present scoring system. The judges have traditionally been horrible on the amateur circuit, but more so in a heavyweight division which has featured no fewer than four terrible verdicts.
This fight is chief among them, but barring a successful appeal (which hasn't been uncommon in this year's competition), Mammadov becomes the first fighter from Azerbaijan to advance to the medal round.
Karneyeu's loss means the end of the road for a three-man Belarus Olympic boxing squad. The heavyweight wasn't quick to exit, instead remaining in the ring long enough to offer a curtain call in the direction of all four sides of the ring. The crowd was appreciative of his sportsmanship, their raucous applause acknowledging the travesty that was the bout's final outcome.
Heavyweight action continues in the semifinals on Friday, August 10. Caveat Emptor.
QUARTERFINALS (Sunday, August 5)
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) def. Artur Beterbiyev (Russia), 17-13
Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria) def. Yamil Peralta (Argentina), 13-10
Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan) def. Siarhei Karneyeu (Belarus), 19-19 (countback)
Clemente Russo (Italy) def. Jose Larduet (Cuba), 12-10
HEAVYWEIGHT SEMIFINALS (Medal Round - Friday, August 10)
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine) vs. Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria)
Teymer Mammadov (Azerbaijan) vs. Clemente Russo (Italy)
HEAVYWEIGHT ROUND OF 16 RESULTS (Wednesday, August 1)
Artur Beterbiyev (Russia) def. Michael Hunter, 10-10 (countback)
Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria) def. Xuanxuan Wang (China), 10-7
Yamil Peralta (Argentina) def. Chouaib Boulodinat (Algeria), 13-5
Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan) def. Jei Opetaia (Australia), 12-11
Siarhei Karneyeu (Belarus) def. Juan Castillo (Ecuador), 21-12
Jose Larduet (Cuba) def. Ali Mazaheri (Iran), DQ-2
Clemente Russo (Italy) def. Tumba Silva (Angola), Walkover (Silva no-show for weigh-in)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: