LONDON (AFP) –
Middleweight Ryota Murata won Japan’s first Olympic boxing gold for 48 years on Saturday, while bantamweight Luke Campbell claimed Britain’s second gold in the ring at the London Games.
Murata’s 14-13 victory over Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao saw Japan win their first boxing gold since Takao Sakurai won bantamweight gold on home soil at the at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
“I’m really happy, but the result was really out of my control,” said the 26-year-old Murata.
“I work at a university and all my focus was on the boxing, so now I can concentrate on paying back all the teachers, students and families.”
His win capped a fine night for Japanese boxing moments after bantamweight Saioshi Shimizu had stood on the dais to receive a bronze — Japan’s first boxing medal since the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
The hosts are also enjoying plenty of success in the London ring.
After Nicola Adams claimed the women’s flyweight gold on Thursday, Campbell kept the Union Flag flying with a 14-11 win over Ireland’s John Joe Nevin.
Britain’s pair of golds are their best return since they achieved the same tally at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
With welterweight Freddie Evans and super heavyweight Anthony Joshua in Sunday’s gold-medal bouts, Campbell says there could be more British success to come.
“I’ll be here cheering them on, hoping and wishing that they can get a gold medal as well,” he said.
“The rest of the team will be there, cheering Fred and Josh on. I’m confident that they can achieve a gold medal.”
China’s Zou Shiming became the first boxer to defend the light flyweight title and he is now also the first Chinese to win two boxing gold medals.
He is also the first man to win three medals at light flyweight having taken bronze at Athens 2004 and is the oldest Olympic champion at that weight.
“I’m very excited, but very tired as well,” said Zou, the reigning world and now double Olympic champion.
Zou, 31, defended the title he won in Beijing four years ago with a 13-10 win over Thailand’s Kaeo Pongprayoon, but it was an unpopular decision with the crowd at London’s ExCel Arena, who jeered the final score as Kaeo wept.
“It was an unbiased judges’ decision. The judge gave me the result, so I won, but it’s nothing to do with me,” said Zou.
Kaeo was disappointed not to have not scored more points in the first round.
“I thought that I’d won and I could see that the crowd thought I’d won as well,” said the 32-year-old with tears in his eyes.
“Especially in the last round, I don’t know why they deducted the points from me. I felt that it was my match. I’m still really happy that I got this silver medal.”
Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias took the men’s light welterweight (64kg) gold on Saturday with a 22-15 win over Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk.
Iglesias, the 2009 world champion who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Tuesday, improved on the bronze he won in Beijing four years ago with a solid display and made sure of gold by taking the final round 11-6.
After Berinchyk’s silver, compatriot Oleksandr Usyk won Ukraine’s first boxing gold in London with a 14-11 win over Italy’s Clemente Russo, who also took silver in Beijing four years ago.
“I feel absolutely great,” said the world champion Usyk, 25, who recovered from 3-1 down after the first round to take the last two convincingly.
“I showed what I can do, especially considering I was behind in the first round, even though I didn’t actually feel any hits from him.”