Richard Torrez Jr. staggered his opponent in the first round, put him on the canvas in the second and busted his nose in the third on Wednesday to win his semifinal bout and earn a shot at a gold medal.
U.S. welterweight boxer Oshae Jones lost her semifinal bout Wednesday to finish her Olympics with a bronze medal.
Torrez deals out punishment in semifinal
U.S. super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr. is looking better and better each bout and has earned a shot at gold with a dominating semifinal performance against Kamshybek Kunkabayev of Kazakhstan.
The American southpaw reached this stage by wearing out Cuban fighter Dainier Pero with constant barrages in the quarterfinals. He started more cautiously this time, seeming subdued after walking out to the strains of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, but landed a strong shot late in the first round, prompting Kunkabayev to hold and lean heavily against the American despite the referee's protests. Four of the judges gave Torrez the first round.
Kunkabayev looked more desperate in the second round, had a point deducted and finished the round on the canvas after taking another hard shot. Judges easily could have given the round as a 10-8 for Torrez, but with the point deduction, the result was effectively the same, with Torrez taking a 20-17 lead on four scorecards.
Needing nothing short of a knockout to win the bout, the 2017 and 2019 world championship runner-up suffered a big cut on his nose from another hard left from Torrez, and the referee waved off the bout.
In the other semifinal, top seed Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan was in control against Frazer Clarke until the British boxer wobbled the world champion with a thunderous right hand. A stunned Jalolov took a standing-eight count, then furiously fought back. Despite the standing-eight count, Jalolov won the second round on four of the five judges' cards, taking a commanding lead into the third round. Clarke would need another big shot or two to win the bout, and while he seemed more than capable, a cut above his eye required medical attention.
"It's fine! It's fine! It's closed!" exclaimed Clarke as he was examined. But Jalolov effectively targeted the cut, and a second examination from the medical staff convinced the referee to stop the bout.
Jones drops semifinal decision
Jones' impressive Olympics ended with a bronze medal and a 4-1 split decision loss at the hands of experienced Chinese boxer Gu Hong.
Like Torrez, Jones was a third seed facing a second seed. But Jones was dealing with a well-tested opponent in Gu, the runner-up in the 2016 and 2018 world championships and nearly 10 years the elder of the 23-year-old Jones.
In the first round, Gu peppered Jones with a persistent left jab. Jones, a southpaw, landed some effective body shots with her left hand. Gu took the round on three judges' scorecards to Jones' two.
Jones pressed the action in the second, happy to walk through Gu's jab if it meant she could get in close and win the exchanges. The judges preferred Gu's effective work at keeping Jones at bay, with four giving her nod.
The scorecards after two rounds left Jones needing a knockout or some 10-8 scores to take the fight. But Gu again used her experience, evading Jones throughout and winning the round by landing punches that weren't particularly strong but kept the American too far away to land the shots she needed.
In the other semifinal, top seed and 2019 world champion Busenaz Surmeneli demolished India's Lovlina Borgohain, who endured several lectures from the referee, two standing-eight counts and a point deduction. By the end, the Turkish fighter was simply toying with Borgohain, seemingly backing off a bit rather than going for a knockout. Three judges scored the third round 10-8, which along with the deducted point added up to a 30-26, 30-26, 30-25, 30-25, 30-25 rout.
Gu is the second seed in the tournament. Jones was third.
Whittaker, Lopez seek light heavyweight gold
Cuba's Arlen Lopez, the gold medalist at middleweight in 2016, simply outclassed Great Britain's Benjamin Whittaker to add a second gold to his collection.
Lopez pressed the action most of the time, and Whittaker didn't land anything effective in response. The second round was somewhat competitive, and Whittaker took the decision on one card, but he still trailed 20-18 on four of the cards. Lopez took his foot off the gas in the last round and cruised to a 4-1 win.
Turkey, Bulgaria to meet for women's flyweight gold
In a sport full of split decisions, Turkey's Buse Naz Cakiroglu and Bulgaria's Stoyka Zhelyazkova Krasteva left the judges little reason to doubt their superiority, taking routine unanimous decisions to reach the gold medal bout.
Cakiroglu, the top seed and runner-up in the 2019 World Championships, got two 29-28 votes and three 30-27 sweeps against Huang Hsiao-Wen of Chinese Taipei.
Krasteva, who beat American hopeful Ginny Fuchs and then second seed Chang Yuan of China to get to the semifinals, earned her second unanimous decision in four bouts to stop Japan's Namiki Tsukimi.
Huang is the first Chinese Taipei boxer to win an Olympic medal.