Roniel Iglesias saved the best for last.
The four-time Cuban Olympian with three medals in two can now add 'two-time Olympic Gold medalist' to his resume after soundly outpointing Great Britain's Pat McCormack in the Tokyo Olympics welterweight final. Scores were 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Iglesias, who delivered a masterclass performance Tuesday evening at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
McCormack entered Tokyo as the number-one seed at welterweight and who breezed to the final round. The supremely gifted British boxer effortlessly moved past Romania's Aliakdsandr Radzionau and Uzbekistan's Bobo-Usmon Baturov to advance to the medal round.
A free ride to the final round was granted after Ireland's Aidan Walsh was unable to compete in the semifinals due to an ankle injury suffered in celebrating his previous win. The development provided McCormack with a few more days of rest than he expected, which worked to his benefit given a cut he suffered in his win over Baturov.
It didn't help him once the bell sounded, as Iglesias was too sharp throughout the contest. The southpaw from Pinar del Rio, Cuba—who turns 33 on August 14—was entering his 15th Olympic bout spanning four separate competitions and two weight divisions. He entered the final round following hard-foughts wins over Sewonrets Okazawa (Japan)—handing the first loss to the hosting nation in this year's competition, followed by a split decision win over USA's Delante Johnson to secure his third Olympic medal, tying ten other boxers including teammate Lazaro Alvarez (featherweight).
A win over number-two seed Andrei Zamkovoi provided the path for Iglesias to take out the top-seeded welterweight in order to deliver Cuba its first Gold medal at welterweight since 1980 and just its third ever at the weight.
Iglesias gave himself a heck of a head start, thoroughly working his jab and following with straight left hands to win the opening round on four of the five scorecards. It was a rare moment of adversity presented to McCormack in the Tokyo Olympics, who was on the verge of suffering the same fate as twin brother Luke who was dominated by Cuba's Andy Cruz in the Round of 16 at lightweight.
Round two provided even greater separation between the two, with Iglesias building an insurmountable lead on four of the five cards (20-18 to that point). Iglesias had to deal with a cut over his right eye, though the wound proved inconsequential.
Iglesias closed the show in the third and final round, fending off an attempted rally by McCormack to continue to land the more telling blows. McCormack was not without his moments, though he was without support as he managed to win the round on just one of the five scorecards.
McCormack is the first Brit to medal at welterweight since Freddie Evans did so in 2012 London. A win would have provided Great Britain with its first-ever Gold medal at welterweight.
Great Britain still takes home a Silver, with at least one more shot at Gold while four more Brits remain in the semifinals hoping to advance.
Iglesias entered the fight as one of three Cubans in the Gold medal round and with Cruz still active in the lightweight semifinals. The unanimous decision win by Iglesias provides Cuba with its first welterweight Gold medalist since 1980 and just third overall.
Cuba has won Silver or better in five of the past eight Olympic Games. This year's squad is now 16-3 in Tokyo, trailing Great Britain (21-7) and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC - 18-7) in total wins and guaranteed medals, with Great Britain and ROC each due to take home six medals.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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