=== Ward wins USA's only boxing gold ===
Athens, Greece (Sports Network) - Andre Ward now has a gold medal to wear along
side the six-year winning streak that already hangs from his neck.
Ward, who hasn't lost a bout since 1998, won his light heavyweight (81kg) final
against Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus on Saturday, claiming the only boxing
gold medal for the Americans in Athens, and their first since Atlanta in 1996.
Ward earned a 20-13 decision over Aripgadjiev, taking control of the bout with
a strong third round. He rallied from behind with a 5-1 points run to take a
14-11 lead at the end of the round, leaving his opponent with a bloody nose.
The momentum now in his favor, Ward scored three quick points to open the
fourth round, taking a comfortable 17-11 advantage. Aripgadjiev had been
scoring with body blows earlier in the fight, but Ward wised to the strategy
and moved accordingly the rest of the way.
With a minute left, there was no doubt.
Ward was the feel-good story for an American team that, even with light
expectations coming in, failed to impress at Peristeri Boxing Hall.
Middleweight Andre Dirrell was the only other U.S. boxer to medal here, and he
won bronze only after losing his 75kg semifinal.
Utkirbek Haydarov of Uzbekistan and Ahmed Ismail of Egypt won bronze in Ward's
81kg class, also by way of semifinal losses. All bronze medalists are
determined that way.
Ward's bout was the final matchup of the day, but only because the super
heavyweight final was decided without a fight.
Russia's Alexander Povetkin was awarded the gold medal following Egyptian boxer
Mohamed Aly's failed medical examination Sunday morning.
There was no indication of doping.
Aly became the second Egyptian boxer to be disqualified at the Athens Games. On
Friday, heavyweight Mohamed Elsayed was disqualified from his semifinal bout
for failing a medical test.
Another Egyptian boxer had to flee from the ring on Tuesday night after fans
threw water bottles. Egypt's Ahmed Ismail was behind in his fight to Greece's
Elias Pavlidis in a light heavyweight bout, but a referee stopped the bout
because Plavidis had cuts and deemed the Greek couldn't continue boxing.
Cuba hogged much of the spotlight before Ward's bout, picking up three more
gold medals for a total of five at these Games. There was one loss, however.
In the welterweight (69kg) final, Kazakhstan's Bakhtiyar Artayev defeated Cuban
Lorenzo Aragon Armenteros by a 36-26 score to win gold. The match was tight
through the first set, but Bakhtiyar posted 6-3 and 14-8 scores in the second
and third rounds to take a comfortable 28-18 lead into the final two minutes.
Russian Oleg Saitov and Kim Jung Joo of Korea were the 69kg bronze medal
Defending Olympic champion and three-time world champ Mario Cesar Kindelan Mesa
of Cuba won gold in the lightweight (60kg) division with a decisive 30-22
victory over Great Britain's Amir Khan. Kindelan Mesa took control of the bout
with an 11-5 score in the second round, which gave him a comfortable 14-9 lead.
Russia's Murat Khrachev and Serik Yeleuov of Kazakhstan won the 60kg bronze
In the bantamweight (54kg) gold medal bout, Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux Ortiz
rolled to a 22-13 victory over Thailand's Worapoj Petchkoom. Rigondeaux Ortiz
jumped out to a 6-3 lead after the first round, led 14-8 after the second and
then put the match out of reach with a 5-1 score in the third.
"I was in perfect psychological condition," Rigondeaux Ortiz said. "It was the
first time I fought a Thai boxer. He was very strong and quick.
World champion Aghasi Mammadov of Azerbaijan and Bahodirjon Sooltonov of
Uzbekistan were the 54kg bronze medal winners.
In the light flyweight (48kg) class, Yan Bhartelemy Varela of Cuba added to his
nation's growing medal total with a 21-16 victory over Turkey's Atagun
Yalcinkaya in the gold medal match. Bhartelemy Varela rebounded from a 4-2 loss
in the first round with a 9-4 score in the second round, taking a healthy 11-8
advantage that he would only increase.
"He is a strong opponent, but I proved to be better than him," said Bhartelemy
Varela, who then dedicated his medal to people of Cuba and its president, Fidel
Zou Shiming of China and Russia's Sergey Kazakov were the 48kg bronze medal
08/29 09:45:29 ET