Savon on song
Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon won the fight of champions at the Olympics on Tuesday and two outclassed Americans went out in the quarter-finals.
Four Russian boxers joined Savon in punching their way to the semi-finals and a guaranteed medal while hosts Australia lost their last hope.
The quarter-final clash between Olympic champion Savon and 1999 world champion Michael Bennett was the one the crowd and WBA professional heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield at ringside were waiting for.
Bennett took the world title last year after Savon, who had won the previous six championships in a row, withdrew before the final as part of a Cuban protest at the judging.
Tuesday's fight settled any doubts about who was best, ending with the American being stopped, outclassed, three seconds from the end of round three.
Savon, who meets Germany's Sebastian Kober next, was 23-8 up by then.
"He is a true warrior. He's amateur boxing history. He's a great guy who deserves everything he's got," said Bennett of Savon, who is on course to emulate compatriot Teofilo Stevenson and win three successive heavyweight golds.
The U.S captain followed middleweight Jeff Lacy, who was declared outclassed after trailing Russian Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov by 15 points, out of the tournament.
Lacy was also stopped under a 15-point "mercy" rule that allows the jury to intervene to prevent a boxer taking unnecessary punishment if his opponent is too far ahead.
"I think they should eliminate that 15 point rule because a puncher like me has always got a chance," said Lacy, and others said the same about the Bennett-Savon bout.
Half the 12 quarter-finals in Tuesday's first session were stopped on the 15 point outclassed rule.
Kober outclassed Canadian Mark Simmons in three rounds, after Lacy had also been despatched in three.
Russia had a good day, with Gaidarbekov following bantamweight Raimkoul Malakhbekov, lightweight Alexandr Maletin and Olympic welterweight champion Oleg Saitov into the semi-finals.
Saitov won the closest fight of the session on a tiebreak after a 10-10 draw with Azerbaijan's Ruslan Khairov.
Spanish light-flyweight Rafael Lozano was the first to secure a medal, ending Kenyan Suleiman Bilali's hopes, while Australia had Bantamweight Justin Kane outclassed by Ukrainian Serguey Daniltchenko.
Lozano's semi-final opponent will North Korean Kim Un Chol, who beat Lithuanian Ivan Stapovic 22-10.
Daniltchenko will fight Malakhbekov, the 1995 and 1997 world champion, for a place in the final. Malakhbekov, a bronze medallist in 1996, beat Alisher Rahimov of Uzbekistan 16-10.
Stylish Cuban lightweight Mario Kindelan, the hot gold medal favourite and world champion, overpowered Greece's Tigkran Ouzlian in another outclassed victory.
The Cuban's semi-final opponent will be Russian Maletin, who outclassed Turkey's Georgian-born Selim Palyani.
Saitov will fight Romanian Dorel Simion next. Hungary's Zsolt Erdei reached the semi-finals by beating Ukrainian Aleksandr Zubrihin 14-9 and now meets Gaidarbekov.
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