Cuba’s Arlen Lopez won the gold medal as a middleweight at Rio 2016, and has followed it up at Tokyo 2020 with the same honor as a light heavyweight, beating Great Britain’s Ben Whittaker on the cards today.
Lopez won the fight on a tally of 4:1, but it was an odd result to judge overall because of how the fight and the scoring played out. Lopez swept the first round, and despite some better work from Whittaker in the second, won four of the five cards that round, too, essentially putting him in as a lock as long as he didn’t get knocked out or utterly dominated in the third.
Knowing he had the 20-18 lead on four cards, Lopez opted to mostly protect the lead in round three, which went to Whittaker on four cards to tighten up the overall scores. Whittaker won one card, 29-28, and lost the other four on scores of 29-28 three times, and one at 30-27, with the Moroccan judge still giving the Cuban the third despite the fact he didn’t even really try to win it.
If two more judges had seen that second round for Whittaker, the third round would have looked completely different. Lopez would have been up 20-18 on two cards, but it would have been even on three, and thus on the line in the final round. But that’s not how it happened, and Whittaker — a stylist who works at range behind a good jab — just didn’t have the skill set to force any huge comeback in the third, and Lopez wasn’t going to let him anyway.
Lopez beat Algeria’s Mohammed Houmri, Mexico’s Rogelio Romero, Azerbaijan’s Cuban-born Loren Alfonso Dominguez, and then Whittaker to claim gold. The one card that went to Whittaker was the only card that Lopez didn’t win in his entire run.
The silver medalist Whittaker had a very good run, coming out of the round of 32 with a win over Colombia’s Jorge Luis Vivas, followed by victories over Abdelrahman Salah of Egypt, Keno Machado of Brazil, and the ROC’s Imam Khataev, who had been brutalizing basically everyone he’d fought up to that point.