One of the fights set for the August 18 boxing session in Rio has already been decided, as United States bantamweight Shakur Stevenson will receive a walkover win against Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, sending Stevenson into the gold medal match at 56kg.
Nikitin has been the subject of a lot of controversy in Rio. His win over Ireland’s Michael Conlan, the top seed, in the quarterfinals received a ton of press, in large part because of Conlan’s emotional reaction, giving the finger(s) to the AIBA officials at ringside, and then going on live Irish television with a profanity-laced interview that called out AIBA for "robbing" him, saying that the organization are "cheating bastards."
But as much of a robbery as that fight was perceived as being, Nikitin’s previous win over Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee was no better, it just didn’t get as many headlines.
None of this is to suggest that Nikitin, 26, deserves the scorn of fight fans himself. In both of those bouts, Nikitin fought his heart out, getting cut in each fight, which is what will keep him out of his semifinal fight with Stevenson.
The Russian will receive a bronze medal.
Stevenson, 19, will be the first U.S. men's fighter to fight for a gold medal since Andre Ward won the light heavyweight gold in 2004, and just the fourth American men's fighter to fight for a gold medal since the 2000 Olympics, along with Ward, Rocky Juarez (silver medalist at featherweight in 2000), and Ricardo Williams (light welterweight silver medalist in 2000).