By Jake Donovan
Vassiliy Jirov was the first boxer from Kazakhstan to win an Olympic Gold medal, which came in 1996. He was also the nation's first fighter to earn the Val Barker trophy, awarded to the outstanding boxer from that year's competition.
Serik Sapiyev's Gold medal win at welterweight felt like more of the same, giving Kazakhstan its third straight 1st place finish in the weight class after a 17-9 win over Great Britain's Freddie Evans in Sunday's finale. The only challenge left is if he could join Jirov while supplanting boxing royalty in claiming the overall competition's top prize.
There is a case to be made for Sapiyev to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko as the top boxer of the 2012 London Games. Whereas Lomachenko wasn't forced to work hard at any point in this year's competition, Sapiyev was flat out dominant in each performance. His six-point win over Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy in Friday's semifinals was the closest margin of victory he enjoyed in any of his four bouts en route to the gold.
Evans had the backing of the London crowd behind him, but quickly found out that what matters most is what's done in the ring and not the noise from the other side of the ropes. Sapiyev dictated the pace, which was well reflected in an early - if not modest - lead.
The two-point margin after one round was merely a starting point for Sapiyev, who was clinical in boxing Evans' ears off in the second. Given a Great Britain fighter was in the finals, the setting normally meant a raucous crowd throughout the contest.
Sapiyev became the first fighter in this year's competition to actually silence the crowd. He did so by bringing Evans' offense to a grinding halt. The Welsh welterweight was reluctant to let his hands go in a third round where he needed to go for broke. Sapiyev was that effective throughout the fight, to where any move he'd make cause Evans to think rather than act.
The announcement of the final scores felt like a formality, though the actual reveal was akin to pouring salt in the proverbial wound. Evans still claims silver, with Great Britain's Anthony Joshua still to come in the super heavyweight finals.
Sapiyev joins Balhtiyar Artayev (2004, also named tournament's best boxer) and Bakhyt Sarsekbayev (2008) in Kazakhstan's 12-year strangehold on the welterweight division. The only question remains is if the Olympic officials will recognize his 2012 run as enough to replace Lomachenko as the best amateur boxer in the world.
Welterweight Finals (Gold medal round - Sunday, August 12):
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Freddie Evans (Great Britain), 17-9
* Sapiyev wins Gold; Evans takes Silver
Welterweight Semifinals (Medal round - Friday, August 10):
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine), 11-10
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia), 18-12
* Shelestyuk and Zamlkovoy share Bronze medal honors
Welterweight Quarterfinals (Tuesday, August 7):
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) def. Alexis Vastine (France), 18-18 (countback)
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Custio Clayton (Canada), 14-14 (countback)
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Errol Spence (United States), 16-11
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela), 20-9
Round of 16 Results (Friday, August 3):
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) def. Vasiliji Belous (Moldova), 15-7
Alexis Vastine (France) def. Tuvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia), 16-12
Custio Clayton (Canada) def. Cameron Hammond (Australia), 14-12
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), 11-7
Vikas Krishan (India) def. Errol Spence, 13-11
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Adam Nolan (Ireland), 18-9
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Yasuhiro Suzuki (Japan) , 25-11
Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela) def. Siphiwe Lusizi (South Africa), 18-13
Welterweights - Round of 32 Results (Sunday, July 29):
Vasiliji Belous (Moldova) def. Selemeni Kidunda (Tansinia), 20-7
Tuvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia) def. Yannick Mitoumba (Gabon), 17-4
Alexis Vastine (France) def. Patrick Wojcicki (Germany), 16-12
Custio Clayton (Canada) def. Oscar Molina (Mexico), 12-8
Cameron Hammond (Australia) def. Moustopha Abdoulaye Hima (Niger), 13-6
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Ilyas Abbadi (Algeria), 18-10
Errol Spence (USA) def. Myke Carvalho (Brazil), 16-8
Adam Nolan (Ireland) def. Carlos Sanchez (Ecuador), 14-8
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Qiong Maimaitituersun (China), 16-11
Siphiwe Lusizi (South Africa) def. Abdulkareem Ahmed (Iraq), 17-13
Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela) def. Amin Ghasemi (Iran), 13-8
Yasuhiro Suzuki (Japan) def. Mehdi Khalsi (Morocco), 14-13
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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