RIO DE JANEIRO — U.S. boxer Shakur Stevenson has reached the Olympic bantamweight final after Russian semifinal opponent Vladimir Nikitin was ruled out with an injury.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) confirmed Thursday that Stevenson advanced by walkover.
Stevenson will fight in Saturday’s final against either Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez or Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
Stevenson will win either gold or silver, the first of either medal for American men since Andre Ward’s gold in 2004. Combined with light flyweight Nico Hernandez’s bronze medal, the U.S. men will leave the Olympics with two medals also for the first time since Athens 12 years ago.
Nikitin sustained heavy damage in three consecutive brutal fights, culminating in a pounding Tuesday from Irish world champion Michael Conlan. Nikitin still received the decision in a hard-fought bout, prompting an outraged Conlan to denounce AIBA and Russia as conspirators in corruption.
Conlan’s potential semifinal matchup with Stevenson was one of the most anticipated bouts of the Rio tournament.
Stevenson is expected to attend the other bantamweight semifinal at Riocentro Pavilion 6 on Thursday.
He will have a difficult matchup in the final against either Ramirez, the flyweight gold medalist at the London Olympics, or the second-seeded Akhmadaliev, whose impressive tournament has included a first-round knockout of Argentina’s Alberto Melian. Stoppages are rare at the amateur sport’s lower weights.