Boxing: Stevenson gifted a walkover to bantamweight final

Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:43pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Highly-rated U.S. bantamweight Shakur Stevenson was given a walkover to an Olympic boxing final with Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez on Thursday after Russian opponent Vladimir Nikitin withdrew due to injury.

Nikitin was involved in the most controversial bout of the Games so far when he beat Ireland's world champion Michael Conlan on Tuesday in a quarter-final that triggered a storm over the new scoring system.

The withdrawal did not surprise the U.S. camp, with coach Billy Walsh quoted on Wednesday evening as saying the Russian's face was "a mess" from cuts sustained during the Conlan fight and two tough bouts before that.

Associate U.S. men's team coach Kay Koroma told reporters that they still had to plan on Thursday for the unlikely possibility of the Russian, who gets a bronze medal for his pains, turning up.

"I don't know how much we would have got out of the Russian because he's kind of beat-up a little bit," he said.

"There were rumors about it," he said. "But we stayed focused, we worked on the game plan, got there this morning and everybody was shaking his (Stevenson's) hand and saying 'congratulations, you move on to the next round'.

"And we were like 'hold on'. And then we looked at the paper and saw his (Nikitin's) name scratched out. He (Stevenson) wanted to fight but then he's like, 'man, I'm going to the finals and this is what I wanted'."

Ramirez, a southpaw who won gold at London 2012 in the flyweight category, beat Uzbekistan's Murodjon Akhmadaliev 3-0 for another shot at gold.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Boxing - Preliminary - Men's Bantam (56kg) Round of 16 Bout 180 - Riocentro - Pavilion 6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 14/08/2016. Shakur Stevenson (USA) of USA competes. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra