Julio Cesar La Cruz will now vie for his second Gold medal, advancing on a day that wasn't entirely kind to Cuba's boxing team.
Having already captured Gold in 2016 Rio as a light heavyweight, La Cruz now looks to join a small handful of Olympians to run the tables in two separate weight divisions. He advances to the heavyweight final following a three-round decision win over Brazil's Abner Teixeira in their semifinal bout Tuesday afternoon at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Teixeira—one of three Brazilian boxers to medal so far—won 30-27 on one card, overruled by more sensible scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of La Cruz who is one of five Cubans to medal and one of three to compete for Gold.
The win leaves Cuba at 2-2 on Tuesday, having lost its first two bouts of the day before turning things around with wins by La Cruz and welterweight semifinalist Andy Cruz.
Next for La Cruz is Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, who became the first of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) boxers to advance to the Gold medal round.
The heavyweight representative of the independent team prevailed with a split decision win over New Zealand's David Nyika in their semifinal bout. One score of 30-27 for Nyika was overruled by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Gadzhimagomedov, who is one of six fighters from the ROC to medal.
Nyika was never out of the fight from bell to bell, but far too often was a punch or two behind during key exchanges. Gadzhimagomedov put his height and reach to proper use, offering a long jab that was often followed by right hands up top.
Both boxers committed to every punch, never more so than in the third and final round. Nyika never stopped fighting as if a win was within reach, even as a decision win was mathematically off the table. Gadzhimagomedov didn't sit on his lead, standing tall at center ring and trading with Nyika, who was effective to the body during inside exchanges.
Nyika—who is 1-0 as a pro—brings a Bronze as the lone member of New Zealand's boxing team in Tokyo.
Gadzhimagomedov will now await the winner of the other semifinal bout evening to determine his opponent in the Gold medal round. Awaiting the ROC heavyweight representative is whomever prevails between Julio La Cruz (Cuba) and Abner Teixeira (Brazil) later Tuesday evening local time.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox