The light welterweight gold medal, along with the flyweight and light flyweight gold medals, is going back with the Uzbekistan team, as Fazliddin Gaibnazarov picked up the country’s third boxing gold medal with a split decision win over Lorenzo Sotomayor of Azerbaijan.
Gaibnazarov, 25, is a two-time Olympian, fighting in London, but coming up short in the quarterfinals there. This year, he defeated Congo’s Dival Malonga, India’s Manoj Kumar, Gary Antuanne Russell of the United States, and top-seeded Vitaly Dunaytsev of Russia en route to his gold medal match.
Sotomayor, 31, is a Cuban now living in and fighting for Azerbaijan, a tall, lanky fighter who had gone through Ukraine’s Volodymyr Matviichuk, France’s Hassan Amzile, and Cuba’s Yasniel Toledo in the first three rounds. In the semifinal, he outworked Germany’s Artem Harutyunyan.
The gold medal match was debatable in the end, but not a robbery. Sotomayor went hard in the third round trying to seal the deal, but that made him a little sloppy, and Gaibnazarov was able to capitalize somewhat. Sotomayor probably overall had his worst performance in the Olympics here, and not just because he lost, and not just because his opponent was good. And he still made it very close.
Gaibnazarov joins light flyweight Hasanboy Dusmatov and flyweight Shakhobidin Zoirov as Uzbekistan’s boxing gold medalists in 2016. They also won two silvers and two bronzes, all on the men’s side. With seven medals combined, they outpaced both Cuba (6) and France (6) in second place.