Uzbekistan boxer Bakhodir Jalolov lifted his arms at the end of the super-heavyweight 91kg bout after conquering his old rival, United States’ Richard Torrez Jr, to claim gold and his country's first-ever Olympic title in the event.
It was the second time they had faced each other in the last two years ago, but this time the 27-year-old did not brutally knock-out the American. The 22-year-old, with more experience under his belt, fought hard in the bruising battle but was denied the victory, which the judges awarded to Jalolov 5-0.
“The last bout was really hard," the Uzbekistan athlete said later. “I still feel as if I’m dreaming right now, being a champion. I think a lot of sportsmen would love to be the Olympic champion. It was also one of my dreams when I was a child. Now I could achieve the result.”
I still feel as if I’m dreaming right now, being a champion. I think a lot of sportsmen would love to be the Olympic champion.
It was also one of my dreams when I was a child. Now I could achieve the result.
The two opponents had last squared up at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships but the memory of his defeat didn’t seem to phase Torrez, as he calmly and confidently walked into the Kokugikan Arena to the strains of Beethoven’s 'Moonlight Sonata'. He was there to exact revenge, and he meant business.
In the first round he went on the attack, setting a frenetic pace, putting in the punches. The Uzbekistan towered over him, but Torrez was more agile and quicker on his feet. Jalolov, who turned professional several years ago, missed shots as the American, an amateur, ducked to avoid the impact. He went back to his corner and his US coach Billy Walsh as the winner of the first round.
By the second Jalolov, who came fifth in the event at Rio 2016, began landing his killer blows. The referee briefly stopped the fight so that Tozzer could have a cut treated, but the American got straight back into the affray. He guarded well, determined there would be no knockouts during this bout, but the world champion looked dangerous and despite Tozzer’s valliant efforts, he landed several right jabs. The judges unanimously awarded the round to the Uzbekistan athlete.
The young opponent fought right to the end of the third round, cheered on by his US teammates, but again Jalolov, who also battled hard, won by a unanimous decision and was crowned Olympic champion in the last boxing bout of Tokyo 2020. He is the first-ever boxer from his country to win the title and only the second to claim a medal in the event after Rustam Saidov took bronze in Sydney 2000.
"I had the world in my hands, and it slipped, and I watched it fall and break, and I'm trying to pick up the pieces," said a disappointed Tozzer, who had to settle for silver.
"He's a big dude. He's a huge competitor I want to say congratulations to him. Being in that ring and getting hit, it's not fun. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. I got hit one time, I got wobbled, but I was able to maintain my feet, I was able to maintain my composure and continue."
On his way to the final Jalolov didn't lose a point. He also defeated Great Britain’s Frazer Clarke, who collected bronze, and India’s Satish Kumar 5-0 and Azerbaijan’s Mahammad Abdullayev 5-0. The second bronze was awarded to Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev, who Torrez overpowered in the semi-final.