Roniel Iglesias found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Despite entering as the number-three seed and receiving an opening round buy, Cuba's Iglesias had to rally in order to beat Japan's own Sewonrets Okazawa via split decision Tuesday evening at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
The final scoring was interesting, as Iglesias didn't actually win on a single scorecard. Okazawa won 29-27 on two cards, while three judges had the bout even, 28-28. When a bout ends in a draw, the judges who scored it even are then pressed to pick a winner—all three went with Iglesias who won rounds two and three.
Okazawa jumped out to an early lead, forcing an aggressive pace which kept Iglesias out of sorts. It was well reflected on the scorecards, with Okazawa sweeping the frame.
Iglesias adjusted in round two but was docked one point for repeatedly hitting behind the head. He was still in a hole after two but with a path to victory—dominate the final round and hope the judges pick him to win.
That is exactly what took place.
While standing eight counts don't mean a 10-8 round, Okazawa found himself behind the eight-ball after getting rocked early in round three. The rest of the frame was fought on relatively even terms though all five judges awarded it to Iglesias to escape with the win.
Iglesias is already on the short list of fighters who've appeared in four Olympics. He is now one win away from becoming just the tenth fighter ever to win three Olympic medals, having claimed Bronze in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London.
The Cuban boxer will have to get past USA's Delante Johnson, who edged Kazakhstan's Ablaikhan Zhussupov via split decision. Full story of Johnson's win can be found HERE.
Japan suffers its first loss in 2020 Tokyo competition, as the team is now 6-1.
Eskerkhan Madiev is the boxer on the 2020 Georgia team to win in Tokyo and the last team member left in competition. He puts his nation in the quarterfinal round after winning a split decision over Shadiri Bwogi (Uganda).
Madiev won 30-26 on three scorecards, lost 29-27 on the awful card turned in by USA's Beau Campbell and was even on the card of Germany judge Susann Kopke. Next up for the Georgian is Andrei Zamkovoi (ROC), the number-two seed who barely got past Stephen Zimba (Zambia) in the final welterweight bout of the day.
Zimba won 30-27 on the scorecard of judge Bachir Abbar (Morocco). The other four judges weren't as kind—or as accurate—as Zamkovoi won by scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 and an unacceptable 30-27 tally from Australian judge Maksim Sulejmani.
Pat McCormack (Great Britain) proved his worth as the number-one seed at welterweight, outclassing Aliaksandr 'Sasha' Radzionau (Belarus) to advance to the quarterfinal round. McCormack won on all five scorecards (30-27 on four, 29-28 on one) in the first bout of the day.
With the win, McCormack joins twin brother Luke McCormack who advanced in lightweight competition with a win on Monday. Next up for the Brit is Bobo Usman Baturov (Uzbekistan), who earned a spot to the Elite Eight following a majority decision win over Rohan Polanco (Dominican Republic).
Four judges had the bout scored 29-27 in favor of Baturov, while the Australian judge had the contest even at 28-28. Polanco was competitive enough for scoring to be all over the place and arguably deserved the nod. The Dominican welterweight was deducted a point for holding in round three, though had plenty of clean moments in the fight to cause problems for Baturov who looked off his game.
Aidan Walsh (Ireland) and Mervin Clair (Cameroon) advance to the quarterfinal round by vastly different means.
Walsh proved far too much for Albert Mengue (Cameroon), winning on all five scorecards (30-25, 30-25, 30-25, 29-26, 28-27). Mengue was docked points in rounds two and three, which otherwise cost him a win on the scorecard of Russian Federation judge Yaroslav Renev. The point deductions spared the embarrassment of the bout being deemed a split decision as Walsh was never in fear of losing at any point.
Clair pulled out a minor upset, ousting number-four seed Zeyad Eishaih Hussein Eashash (Jordan) from competition after sending home Canada's Wyatt Sanford on Saturday. The win came via unpopular split decision, with Eashash winning 30-27 on two cards only to be overruled by a trio of 29-28 scores for Clair who let out a proud battle cry upon hearing the verdict.
Clair—a two-time Olympian who was eliminated in the opening round of 2016 Rio—fell behind early but valiantly fought back to eventually pull ahead and advance in welterweight competition. He is now in the quarterfinals and one win away from becoming the first fighter from Mauritius since 2008 win a medal.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox