Saturday, September 30|
Savon only third fighter with three golds
SYDNEY, Australia -- Felix Savon didn't look like a winner,
but he was. So was Cuba, which will go home with its usual Olympic
boxing medal haul.
Savon was bleeding badly from a deep cut under his left eye as
his fight with Russia's Sultanahmed Ibzagimov drew to an end
Saturday. By that time, though, he had landed his big right hand
enough to secure his third Olympic heavyweight boxing gold.
Savon became only the third boxer to win three Olympic gold
medals, joining former Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson and
Hungary's Lazlo Papp as triple gold medalists.
Three of Savon's teammates also won gold medal fights, giving
the powerful Cuban team four gold medals -- the same total it won in
Atlanta -- and two bronze.
Six more gold medal bouts will be fought Sunday, but no Cubans
are in them. No Americans fought Saturday, but two are in gold
medal bouts on Sunday.
Savon, who won gold medals in 1992 and 1996 and is a six-time
world amateur champion, came into the ring with a mark under his
left eye that appeared swollen from a previous fight.
It didn't stop him from piling up points against the Russian,
who had trouble getting inside the reach of the 6-foot-6 Cuban
heavyweight. A punch in the fourth round opened a deep cut below
the eye, but Savon was allowed to continue and won 21-13.
As Savon went back to his corner, blood was streaming down his
face from the cut.
A few moments later, though, he was happily dancing in the ring,
waving a Cuban flag in victory.
"I'm really happy. I dedicate this to the people of Cuba,"
The 33-year-old Savon has dominated amateur heavyweight boxing
for the last decade, though there were whispers that he was fading
as he got off to a rocky start in his first fight before beating
his Nigerian opponent.
Michael Bennett was next for Savon, who used his powerful right
hand to pile up enough points to stop the inexperienced American
late in the third round.
"He's a great warrior," Bennett said.
Savon was cut under the left eye in a semifinal fight he won
over a German, but was allowed to continue and fight in the gold
Ibzagimov, who landed some telling blows in the final two
rounds, said he followed the wrong strategy for the fight.
"I came out and boxed defensively, and it was a mistake," he
Other Cubans winning Saturday were Ortiz Rigondeaux, a
20-year-old newcomer at 119 pounds, and veterans Mario Kindelan at
132 pounds and Jorge Gutierrez at 165 pounds.
The other two gold medals were won by Brahim Asloum of France at
106 pounds, and Oleg Saitov of Russia at 147 pounds.
It was the second Olympic gold for Saitov, who also won in
"I don't know what I'm going to do now," Saitov said after
beating Sergei Dotsenko of the Ukraine, 24-16. "I don't like
planning ahead. I will just let things happen."
Saitov's win brightened the day for the Russian team, which came
into the finals with the most boxers still in the competition --
five -- but lost three of four fights.
The first boxing gold went to Asloum, who earlier in the
tournament had beaten favored Brian Viloria of the United States at
Asloum was fighting perhaps the smallest boxer in 4-foot-11
Rafael Lozano of Spain, who was fighting in his third Olympics.
Lozano, who won a bronze medal in Atlanta, fought hard but just
couldn't keep the pressure on Asloum, who was wearing his hair in
his country's colors of white, blue and red.
"I wanted the gold, but I got the silver. I hope my girlfriend
will talk to me tonight," Lozano said.
|Cuba's Felix Savon (right) beat Russia's Sultanahmed Ibzagimov in the heavyweight final Saturday for his third Olympic gold.|