Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo won the Olympic gold medal on Saturday, using superior boxing ability to stave off Denys Berinchyk of the Ukraine in the light welterweight final at the ExCel Arena in London.
Iglesias had Olympic experience before; the southpaw was a bronze medalist in Beijing, and was actually the only member of the Cuban squad to come back for a second consecutive Olympics. He had advanced to the finals by defeating Italy’s stylish Vincenzo Mangiacapre in decisive fashion (15-8) and also was able to handle things against Berinchyk, although it was not necessarily an easy assignment.
Berinchyk was the shorter man, and tried to take advantage of that by being more of the brawler and getting inside, resorting, in fact, to some roughhouse tactics at times. It was certainly imperative for Iglesias to maintain his cool through much of this and fire away from the outside, and that is exactly what he did.
Iglesias had better fundamentals and more range, and he was successful in being able to maintain distance – so important for a boxer-type to do – and pick away at Berinchyk more often than not from the outside.
The judges saw Iglesias getting an edge, although only slightly, in the first two rounds, as he won each of them by a single point. But Berinchyk’s frustration was a contributing factor to a big third round for the Cuban, who piled up an 11-6 advantage to take a fight that was still essentially up in the air and turn it into a 22-15 final verdict.
Iglesias now adds an Olympic gold to his bronze, and to his gold medals in both the 2009 World Amateur Championships and 2011 Pan Am Games.
Cuba missed out on a gold in the last Olympiad in Beijing, so this was the first gold medal they had won in boxing since 2004.