Harrison wins as American argue


SYDNEY, Reuters

British super-heavyweight Audley Harrison won gold on Sunday as controversy hit the Olympic boxing tournament on the final day.

A Russian referee was suspended from international competition for four years after the U.S. team protested about his officiating in the featherweight final featuring their world champion Ricardo Juarez.

An American call for Juarez to be declared the winner instead of Kazakhstan’s Bekzat Sattarkhanov was rejected, however, leaving the United States without an Olympic boxing gold for the first time since 1948.

Flyweight Wijan Ponlid became a national hero with the second gold in Thailand’s history while Uzbek light-welterweight Mahamadkadyz Abdullaev put his country on the map with their first Olympic boxing title.

Leaving aside the accusations and arguments outside the ring, it was Harrison, the biggest man in the tournament, who brought matters to a thrilling close.

The giant Londoner passed a late medical on his injured left fist and stepped into the ring for a final that would make him Britain’s 10th gold medalist of the Games and his country’s first boxing champion since 1968. Harrison, dubbed the “H Bomb” for his explosive punching power, prevented Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov from becoming Kazakhstan’s third champion of the day with an early standing eight count and a runaway 30-16 win.

He used his jab to telling effect and then lashed in combinations as the Kazakh found nowhere to hide. Leading 18-12 at the start of the fourth round, Harrison piled in and shattered Dildabekov’s fading dream.