Imam Khataev continues to be a problem for the rest of the light heavyweight field.
The compact bruiser remains one of six R.O.C. athletes still alive in competition and the first from the independently represented team to advance to the medal round. Khataev powered his way to the light heavyweight semifinals following an emphatic third-round knockout of Gazimagomed Jalidov in Thursday's quarterfinal match at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Khataev left Jalidov stunned in round two in producing a standing eight count before closing the show with a right hand to put Jalidov down and out. The fight was waved off after a brief count, with Khataev hailed as the winner just before the bell to end the third and final round.
With the win, Khataev will now advance to the semifinal round where he will face Benjamin Whittaker (Great Britain), who barely outlasted Keno Machado (Brazil) in a bout that came down to the final round.
Whittaker managed to do just enough to impress three of the five judges (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Machado won on two cards (29-28, 29-28) in serving as the aggressor to Whittaker's stylist boxer, though falls just short in the end.
Whittaker is among the most charismatic boxers participating in Tokyo, though has yet to kick into second gear in any of his three wins. Still, he manages to get the job done and now guarantees a second medal for Great Britain who is a tournament best 15-3 thus far.
It's also a second straight light heavyweight medal run for Great Britain; Joshua Buatsi claimed Bronze in 2016 Rio and has since emerged as a leading light heavyweight contender.
Arlen Lopez (Cuba) has now medaled for the second time in as many weight divisions, following a three-round shutout of Rogelio Romero (Mexico). All five judges scored the contest 30-27 in favor of Lopez, who won Gold as a middleweight in 2016 Rio and aims to do the same at light heavyweight.
Cuba is now 7-0 in Tokyo, with Lopez joining welterweight Roniel Iglesias in the medal round. Conversely, Romero's loss leaves Mexico without any more participants in Tokyo.
Alfonso Dominguez (Azerbaijan) outlasted Bayram Malkan (Turkey) in an awful-to-watch fight but with the end result putting the number-two seed Dominguez into the semifinal round. It sets up an all Cuban heritage medal round match with Lopez, as Dominguez was born in Cuba before making his way to Azerbaijan.
Dominguez and Malkan were deducted one point each in a wild round that saw both fighters repeatedly fall to the canvas and hit on the break. The wild round ended with Malkan issued a standing eight count, much to his dismay has he threw his arms in the air in protest over the call.
More of the same came in round three, though enough for Dominguez to guarantee a medal for Azerbaijan.
Both semifinal bouts will take place Sunday, with the winners to advance to the Gold medal round.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox