By Jake Donovan
A rematch to last year's World Amateur Championships middleweight semifinals is in store for the division's Olympic finale. Brazil's Esquiva Falcao and Ryota Murata of Japan will meet again in Saturday's middleweight finals after posting impressive wins in Friday afternoon's semifinal action.
Falcao proved his superiority in overcoming the house fighter, scoring four official knockdowns (two true knockdowns and two more standing-eight counts) en route to a 16-9 win over Great Britain's Anthony Ogogo.
Murata's journey was far more challenging, as Abbos Atoev's good fortune with the judges finally ran out in a 13-12 verdict in favor of the Japanese middleweight.
Falcao is one-half of a brother act in search of Olympic paydirt. Older brother Yamaguchi Falcao appears in the light heavyweight semifinals later this evening. The elder sibling now has to live up to the kid brother, as Esquiva was as brilliant on Friday as he has been throughout the competition.
Ogogo was riding high on a Cinderella-like run over the course of the past two weeks. It's arguable that he didn't deserve to make it past the Round of 16, never mind all the way to Friday's semifinals.
What can't be taken away from Ogogo, however, is his fighting heart. The Brit was dominated in this bout and could have conceded defeat at any point. He instead went down swinging, even if it meant repeatedly going down.
Two standing eight counts in round two were followed by two true knockdowns in the final round. Ogogo looked dejected after the second knockdown, but fought to the finish and was ever the sportsman in defeat. An embrace between the two fighters signified the true spirit of the Games, as Ogogo wished Falcao and his team well before gracefully exiting the ring.
The second leg of the semifinals wasn't anywhere nearly as conclusive.
Atoev has benefited from very generous scoring throughout the 2012 London Games. More of the same appeared to be in store as Murata found himself in a 4-1 hole early on.
The judges finally caught up to the action in round two, but Murata would still need a rally if he was to give Japan a shot at anything other than Olympic bronze. A dominant final three minutes of fighting provided that moment for the fighter and his nation, unloading on the last remaining member of Team Uzbekistan to squeak out a well-deserved win.
Murata and Atoev also met in the opening round of last year's World Amateur Championships competition in Baku. Murata sent Atoev packing with a 1st round stoppage.
The same tournament saw Murata decisively beat Falcao in the semifinals before settling for Silver in the finals, which earned him the number-two seed in this year's competition.
The rematch to that bout serves as the 2012 Olympic middleweight finals, which takes place on Saturday, August 11.
Middleweight Semifinals (Medal round - Friday, August 10):
Anthony Ogogo (Great Britain) vs. Ezquiva Falcao (Brazil)
Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) vs. Ryota Murata (Japan)
* Ogogo and Atoev share Bronze medal honors
Middleweight Finals (Sunday, August 11)
Ezquiva Falcao (Brazil) vs. Ryota Murata (Japan)
Middleweights Quarterfinals (Monday, August 6):
Anthony Ogogo (Great Britain) def. Stefan Hartel (Germany), 15-10
Ezquiva Falcao (Brazil) def. Zoltan Harcsa (Hungary), 14-10
Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) vs. Vijender Singh (India), 17-13
Ryota Murata (Japan) def. Adem Kılıççı (Turkey), 17-13
Middleweights - Round of 16 Matchups (Thursday, August 2):
Anthony Ogogo (Great Britain) def. Ievgen Khytrov (Ukraine), 18-18 (double tiebreaker)
Stefan Hartel (Germany) def. Darren O'Neill, 19-12
Zoltan Harcsa (Hungary) def. Mjundjae Kasuto (Namibia), 16-7
Ezquiva Falcao (Brazil) def. Soltan Migitinov (Azerbaijan), 24-11
Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) def. Bogdan Juratoni (Romania), 12-10
Vijender Singh (India) def. Terrell Gausha, 16-15
Adem Kılıççı (Turkey) def. Aleksander Drenovak (Serbia), 20-11
Ryota Murata (Japan) def. Abdelmalek Rahou (Algeria), 21-12
Middleweights - Round of 32 Results (Saturday, July 28):
Anthony Ogogo (Great Britain) def. Junior Castillo (Dominican Republic), 13-6
Darren O'Neill (Ireland) def. Muideen Akanji (Nigeria), 15-6
Stefan Hartel (Germany) def. Enrique Collazo (Puerto Rico), 18-10
Mjundjae Kasuto (Namibia) def. Sobirdzhon Inazarov (Tajikistan), 11-8
Zoltan Harcsa (Hungary) def. Jose Espinoza (Venezuela), 16-13
Soltan Migitinov (Azerbaijan) def. Mohamed Hikal (Egypt), 20-12
Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) def. Badr-Eddine Haddioui (Morocco) – 11-9
Terrell Gausha (USA) def. Andranik Hakobyan (Armenia) - RSC-3
Vijender Singh (India) def. Danabek Suzhanov (Kazakhstan) - 14-10
Adem Kılıççı (Turkey) def. Nursahat Pazziyev (Turkmenistan) - 14-7
Aleksander Drenovak (Serbia) def. Mario Delgado (Ecuador) - 30-12
Abdelmalek Rahou (Algeria) def. Jesse Ross (Australia), 13-11
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox
Tags: Amateur Boxing