Americans go 0-3, 4 remain
LONDON -- After four fairly orderly days at the Olympics, perhaps the wacky world of amateur boxing was overdue for an eventful night.
An Iranian heavyweight received a curious disqualification, AIBA overturned a Japanese boxer's strange loss to a pratfalling bantamweight from Azerbaijan, and two British fighters delighted the home crowd with narrow victories Wednesday night.
Iran's Ali Mazaheri left the ring without shaking hands and later cried conspiracy after a German referee disqualified him from his bout with Cuba's Jose Larduet, apparently for an accumulation of holding fouls.
Japan's Satoshi Shimizu then filed a protest after he lost a 22-17 decision to second-seeded Magomed Abdulhamidov despite sending him to the canvas six times in the third round in what appeared to be an exhausted fighter's attempt to maintain a narrow lead. Amateur boxing's governing body overturned the result late Wednesday night, allowing Shimizu to advance.
The British crowd jeered and booed those ring decisions, but stood in near-constant cheers for its home favorites, who still haven't been beaten in London. Bantamweight Luke Campbell began the evening with an 11-9 win over Italy's Jahyn Parrinello, and super heavyweight Anthony Joshua ended it with a 17-16 victory over Cuba's Erislandy Savon, delighting his hometown.
"It's the biggest event on the planet, it's my first fight, and did you see the crowd out there?" Campbell asked. "I'm just glad I got the first one out of the way."
In the afternoon session, three American fighters lost to a Cuban world champion and two Russian heavyweights, depleting the U.S. ranks to four remaining men.
Top-seeded bantamweight Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba beat Joseph Diaz Jr. 21-15, and U.S. heavyweight Michael Hunter tired badly in the third round of a narrow loss to Artur Beterbiev before super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale dropped a 19-8 decision to Magomed Omarov.
The tournament's top seeds were in action for the first time Wednesday, which also marked the return of the constant arguments and complaints about judging and refereeing that colored most of the Olympic tournament in Beijing.
But Mazaheri and Shimizu both felt they had ample reason to be angry.
Mazaheri was warned three times in the first 1½ rounds about holding Larduet, including an egregious instance in which he appeared to pull Larduet toward him while falling backward. But referee Frank Scharmach's decision to disqualify Mazaheri in the second round seemed awfully quick to the crowd, which responded with jeers and chants of "Ali! Ali!"
"It was a fix," Mazaheri said through a translator. "I could have got a bronze easily if it hadn't been for that. In my previous fights, I had done really well. It was a setup."
Mazaheri stood with his arms outstretched after the disqualification while boos rained down. He congratulated Larduet's coaches and climbed through the ropes without waiting for the official decision, refusing to interact with Scharmach.
"I wanted to keep boxing at least one more round," Larduet said. "He was a weird boxer. Tall, and a little dirty. He didn't want to shake my hand, but I don't care. I'm going to the quarterfinals."
Shimizu filed what's thought to be the first protest of the London Olympics after Abdulhamidov barely made it to the bell despite six falls to the canvas, often with little help from Shimizu. Abdulhamidov needed help out of the ring after the final round, while Shimizu stood with his arms on the ropes in disbelief.
"I was shocked about the final scores," Shimizu said. "He fell down so many times. Why didn't I win? I don't understand. This is the second Olympic Games I have played, and even in Beijing I wasn't happy about the judgment, so I don't know what to do about that."
Japan's team leader also was furious about Turkmenistani referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov helping Abdulhamidov with his headgear during the final round, further delaying the bout's resumption and allowing the fighter to recover.
AIBA said the referee should have been required to stop the contest after three knockdowns, overturning the result and sending Shimizu into the quarterfinals against Algeria's Mohamed Ouahadi. AIBA will consider sanctions against Meretnyyazov on Thursday.
About three hours after Campbell survived a huge case of nerves to hold off Parrinello, Joshua and Savon met in the card's highest-profile fight, which randomly ended up in the main-event position as the final bout.
Neither super heavyweight controlled the bout, but both landed heavy shots in the type of amateur boxing match that begs for additional rounds. Instead, the one-point decision went to Joshua, a silver medalist at last year's world championships, over the cousin of Felix Savon, the three-time Olympic gold medalist.
"I'm trying to keep up with the hype," Joshua said of the anticipation building around the British team. "I was calmer than I thought. I'm glad they let me entertain the crowd as well."
Super heavyweight Simon Kean also posted Canada's second win in London after the nation was blanked in Beijing, beating France's Tony Yoka on the countback tiebreaker. Olympic silver medalist Zhang Zhilei of China also advanced in the bracket, stopping Australia's Johan Linde with a big right hook late in the second round.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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