By Ognian Georgiev
Vassiliy Levit (Kaz) was announced as the people’s Olympic champ hours after his official loss in the heavyweight final against Evgeny Tischenko (Rus) in Rio de Janeiro. The Kazakh brawler was very strong and stunned his taller opponent several times. At the end, each of the three scoring judges had it 29-28 for the World and European champ Tischenko.
The audience at Pavilion 6 booed the decision. Among the crowd was the IOC president Thomas Bach, who was sitting alongside with AIBA president Ching-Kwo Wu.
“I thought I won,” said Levitin the press conference. “My coaches were satisfied by my performance. They told me that I did everything, but you saw how it ended.”
Levit, one of the stars of WSB, showed great sportsmanship. During the awards ceremony, the audience once again loudly showed its dissatisfaction of the verdict when Tischenko received his gold medal.
The runner-up put his finger in front of his mouth in a gesture of respect and asked the crowd to calm down when the Russian anthem was played. After the ceremony ended, Levit put down his silver medal and place it in his pocket.
“Every fighter who enters the ring deserves respect”, Levit explained why he urged the fans to calm down during the awarding ceremony.
AIBA president Ching-Kwo Wu was asked about the controversial verdict by the press.
“My congratulations for Russia. There are different ways to evaluate judges’ work, but they took such a decision and we must respect it,” said Wu.
Even in Tischenko’s home country, many boxing fans recognized who the clear winner was. Famous Russian boxing commentator Alexander Belenky, who announced the fight on the national television agreed that the Kazakh fighter deserved the win. According to Sports.kz the journalist admitted that he may be cut off from his broadcasting services.
“They already wrote some slanders against me,” Belenky said on his Facebook page.
Tischenko’s reaction after the fight showed that he had almost lost hope to be the winner. He never raised his hands and his coaches didn’t seem so happy by his performance.
“I gave it all. My plan was to strike first, but it didn’t work out so well. I was hit with some heavy blows, but I tried to return each hit. It was the toughest fight for me in Rio. I didn’t know how the judges will score it,” the new Olympic heavyweight champ said in the press conference after the fight.
Later Tischenko gave an interview to “Sport-express” correspondent Vladimir Raush.
“If there was some sort of injustice, I would like to offer my apology to Vassiliy. I can’t rate the actions of the judges, because I was in the ring,” stated Tischenko.
“I still don’t know if I will turn pro. It’s possible to stay for another Olympic cycle. I had one conversation with Russian promoter Andrey Ryabinski, but it was off the record,” said Tischenko.
The head coach of Russian national team Alexander Lebziak, Olympic light-heavyweight champion from Sidney 2000, explained the audience’s reaction with the bigger group of Kazakh fans.
“We won the first two rounds, but the third one…the most important thing is that we finished the fight.”
Levit’s dominance was obvious in the final round. Despite that and the recognition of the Russian coach, two of the judges, Michael Gallagher and Armando Carbonell Alvarado inexplicably gave the third round to Tischenko, which was decisive for the final verdict.
Ognian Georgiev is a Bulgarian sports journalist and author of the book “The White Prisoner: Galabin Boevski’s Secret Story”. You may find more about him on his blog: http://ogigeorgiev.wordpress.com/