The men’s heavyweight gold medal match in Rio is set after today’s two semifinal bouts, one an expected result, the other an upset, and both fights debatable.
Top-seeded Russian Evgeny Tishchenko and Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit will fight for the gold medal on Monday. Bronze medals will go to their opponents today, Uzbekistan’s Rustam Tulaganov and Cuba’s Erislandy Savón.
Tishchenko, 25, is competing in his first Olympics, but has been a standout amateur for some time now. In 2009, he won gold at the European Youth Championships as a light heavyweight, doing the same at the 2012 European U-23 Championships. He moved to heavyweight after that, winning silver at the 2013 World Championships, and then gold at the 2015 World and European Championships.
Tishchenko’s first win in Rio came against Italian veteran Clemente Russo, who is a two-time Olympic silver medalist, and two-time World Championships gold medalist. He defeated Tishchenko for the gold medal at the World Championships in 2013. Tishchenko followed that with a more debatable win over Uzbekistan’s Rustam Tulaganov in the semifinal.
Levit, 28, dominated his first two fights in Rio, stopping Fengkai Yu of China in the round of 16, and taking a decision over Kennedy St-Pierre of Mauritius in the quarterfinals. Those wins were nothing compared to his semifinal upset over Cuba’s Erislandy Savón, a fighter thought by many to be the true gold medal favorite.
Levit, though, fought a perfect fight against Savón in the final two rounds, neutralizing the Cuban’s skills and working his way to a deserved if debatable victory.