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Friday, August 10, 2012
China's Zou Shiming reaches final

Associated Press

LONDON -- When Lennox Lewis tells a heavyweight British boxer to do something, that boxer usually listens.

Anthony Joshua paid attention to Lewis' instructions, and it earned him a place in a gold-medal match at the Olympic boxing tournament.

Joshua rallied impressively in the third round to beat Kazakhstan's 6-foot-9 Ivan Dychko, closing the evening session of semifinal bouts with style in front of a frenzied home crowd.

Joshua showed off a steady jab that could make him an extremely successful pro. While attending teammate Nicola Adams' gold-medal victory one night earlier, Joshua got a tutorial on his game plan from Lewis, who reminded Joshua to back up a taller opponent with the jab.

"There's always work to do, but I want to go in Sunday and win," Joshua said. "I'm learning every fight. I'm just going to go out there and get better."

Britain will have three fighters in finals after Joshua, bantamweight Luke Campbell and welterweight Freddie Evans advanced. Evans earned a gold-medal meeting with Kazakhstan's Serik Sapiyev after his 11-10 victory over Ukraine's Taras Shelestyuk, with the British fans lifting him to heights he has never reached in the amateur game.

"Every time I come in here, it just keeps getting bigger and better," Evans said. "They're just giving us that little extra bit of a lift."

Lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko and two Ukrainian teammates also advanced to gold-medal bouts with semifinal victories.

Lomachenko, Chinese light flyweight Zou Shiming and Italian super heavyweight Roberto Cammarelle all earned the right to fight during the final weekend for their second straight Olympic gold medals.

Two more fighters also protested the results of their bouts in a tournament full of appeals to amateur boxing's governing body. Ukraine light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk protested his loss to Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov on a tiebreaker, and super heavyweight Magomedrasul Medzhidov protested his one-point loss to Cammarelle. AIBA rejected both protests late Friday night.

The London tournament will wrap up this weekend with no American fighters in the medal bouts. The nine-man U.S. team is headed home from an Olympics with no medals for the first time after losing nine of its final 10 fights.

Lomachenko was tested in his second straight fight, but stayed in control in a 14-11 win over promising Cuban lightweight Yasniel Toledo. Earlier Friday, The Associated Press learned Lomachenko and his four medal-winning Ukrainian teammates decided their professional futures by signing with a new pro league backed by amateur boxing's governing body.

Earlier Friday, Ukraine light welterweight Denys Berinchyk and Mongolia's Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg put on perhaps the best fight of the tournament, with the relentless Berinchyk rallying from a second-round deficit to score a jaw-dropping 17 points in the third round of a 29-21 victory. Berinchyk will face Cuba's Roniel Iglesias in the final.

Ukraine heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk dominated Bulgaria's Tervel Pulev to earn a gold-medal bout with Italy's Clemente Russo, who beat top-seeded Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan.

Ukraine's powerful team placed a tournament-high five boxers in the semifinals. The Ukrainians are distinctive for more than their boxing acumen and those striking blue-and-yellow outfits: Both Berinchyk and Usyk cut their hair into a chub, a traditional Cossack haircut featuring a shaved head with one long, flowing lock on top.

Zou had a rougher time than his two fellow defending gold medalists. He narrowly advanced with a tiebreaker victory over Ireland's Paddy Barnes in the first semifinal fight.

Barnes hoped to bounce back from four years of embarrassment after Zou beat him 15-0 in the semifinals in Beijing, and the energetic Irish fighter nearly knocked off the champ. After three rounds of strong exchanges, the bout was scored 15-15, but Zou edged Barnes on the countback tiebreaker that tallies up a more complete total of punches landed.

"I'm not going to cry about it," said Barnes, a personable, popular fighter who spent much of his time in the Olympic village trying to take photographs with famous athletes. "He's a world champion, and he got that for a reason."

While this is the last Olympics for the 31-year-old Zou, Barnes said he wouldn't mind coming back at the 2016 Rio Games, "unless someone offers me a million pounds."

Zou will meet Thailand's Kaeo Pongprayoon in the final after his 13-12 win over Russia's David Ayrapetyan.

Bantamweight John Joe Nevin of Ireland stunned top-seeded Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba 19-14 to advance to the final against Campbell. Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar also pulled off a surprise, eliminating top-seeded flyweight Misha Aloian of Russia to set up a final meeting with Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba.

Ramirez has been among the Olympics' most impressive boxers, emerging as Lomachenko's chief rival for the Val Barker Trophy given to the tournament's best boxer. The 18-year-old left-handed fighter easily advanced with a 20-10 win over Ireland's Michael Conlan, leaving Nevin as the only Irish fighter left.

Nevin had few problems getting rid of the top-seeded Alvarez, who beat talented U.S. bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr. in one of the tournament's better fights last week. Nevin even showboated a bit for the hundreds of fans who mobbed the square of his hometown in Mullingar, Ireland, to watch the fight on televisions, doing a little shuffle-step move dubbed the Mullingar Shuffle by his coaches.

"I think he kind of gave up a little halfway into the last round when he couldn't get to me," Nevin said.

Campbell and Nevin split two recent fights, including a meeting at the world championships.

Not everything went perfectly for Britain: Campbell's teammate, middleweight Anthony Ogogo, got knocked down and never got rolling in a 16-9 loss to Esquiva Falcao, who will fight Ryota Murata for Brazil's first boxing gold medal. Falcao's brother, Yamaguchi, lost in the light heavyweight semifinals to Egor Mekhontcev, the only Russian still alive in the tournament.

Murata, who rallied in the third round to beat Uzbekistan's Abbos Atoev 13-12, will attempt to win Japan's second Olympic boxing gold medal -- the first since the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Cammarelle upset the top-ranked super heavyweight Medzhidov, squeezing out a 13-12 victory with a 3-2 third round. Medzhidov gave the thumbs-down gesture at the judges' call, but his appeal was unsuccessful.

Berinchyk and Uranchimeg highlighted the day when they combined for an all-out brawl, with Berinchyk relentlessly pushing forward while Uranchimeg picked him apart with hooks and counterpunches. Both fighters took numerous clean head shots, but Uranchimeg -- who upset Britain's Tom Stalker two days ago -- got caught with a combination and a standing-eight count in the third round.

Berinchyk was relentless, recording another eight-count on the dazed Uranchimeg before finishing strong. The serious-faced Berinchyk then did a joyful dance in the ring.