By Jake Donovan
Great Britain's own Anthony Joshua truly saved the best for last, at least as far as the partisan London crowd was concerned.
The "hometown" super heavyweight conquered boxing royalty, edging out Erislandy Savon of Cuba with a 17-16 win in the final bout of Round of 16 competition Wednesday evening.
The win didn't come without whispers of homering judges. The fight was a nip-and-tuck-affair, but the scoring suggested that Joshua managed to remain a slight step ahead of Savon in each of the first two rounds.
Public perception told a slightly different tale, as Savon appeared to be the busier and more effective boxer. Nevertheless, the two-point deficit through two rounds forced the Cuban to rally late in hopes of a dramatic turnaround against London's favorite son, but would fall just short in the end.
Joshua entered to raucous cheers and exited to an equally celebratory crowd after the official verdict was announced. It was the toughest of losses for the 22-year old Savon, whose uncle was none other than legendary three-time Olympic Gold medalist Felix Savon.
The win by Joshua runs Great Britain's mark to a perfect 5-0 in the 2012 Summer Games. It also presents a different look for his quarterfinal opponent, Zhelei Zhang of China.
Zhang captured Olympic silver in front of a partisan Beijing crowd four years ago. The 29-year old will have to travel a far different path if he's to hit amateur paydirt in 2012, as he is forced to switch roles from house fighter to enemy for an evening.
The road to the quarterfinals was smooth sailing for Zhang, who scored a 2nd round knockout of Ausralia's Johan Linde. The difference in class was evident from the opening bell, as Zhang entered the fight as a five-time world champion and looked the part every step of the way.
A right hook to the temple put Linde on queer street, prompting an eight-count and subsequent stoppage.
Ivan Dychko is now one fight away from celebrating his 22nd birthday (August 11) with an Olympic medal. The 6'9" super heavyweight from Kazakhstan cruised through his Round of 16 match, dominating Erik Pfeifer of Germany to the tune of a 14-4 boxing lesson.
Dychko - who is the tallest fighter in the competition - put his massive height and reach advantages to good use, never allowing Pfeifer to get on the inside. The tactic worked masterfully, as the German was only granted isolated moments of success.
Next up for the towering Kazakh super heavyweight is Canada's Simon Kean, who never relented in taking a 16-16 countback win over Tony Yoka of France.
The afternoon session saw Dominic Breazeale become the latest member of Team USA to bow out of competition. His loss was the squad's most lopsided thus far, receiving two standing eight counts en route to a 19-8 beatdown at the hands of Magomed Omarov of Russia.
A full recap of the earlier bouts of super heavyweight competition can be found
. Quarterfinal action for amateur boxing's heaviest weight class takes place on Monday, August 6.
Super Heavyweights Round of 16 (Wednesday, August 1)
Magomedrasul Majidov (Azerbaijan) def. Meji Mwamba (Congo), RSC-2 (2:09)
Magomed Omarov (Russia) def. Dominic Breazeale (USA), 19-8
Mohamed Arjaoui (Morocco) def. Blaise Yepmou (Cameroon), 15-6
Roberto Cammarelle (Italy) def. Italo Perea (Ecuador), 18-10
Ivan Dychko (Kazakhstan) def. Erik Pfiefer (Germany), 14-4
Simon Kean (Canada) def. Tony Yoka (France), 16-16 (countback)
Zhilei Zhang (China) def. Johan Linde (Australia), RSC-2
Anthony Joshua (Great Britain) def. Erislandy Savon (Cuba), 17-16
Super Heavyweights Quarterfinals (Monday, August 6)
Magomedrasul Majidov (Azerbaijan) vs. Magomed Omarov (Russia)
Mohamed Arjaoui (Morocco) vs. Roberto Cammarelle (Italy)
Ivan Dychko (Kazakhstan) vs. Simon Kean (Canada)
Zhilei Zhang (China)
vs. Anthony Joshua (Great Britain)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: