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Rio 2016 boxing ends with a slew of gold medals for Uzbekistan
August 22, 2016, 10:23 am

The most notable storyline to take home from Rio 2016 Olympic Games boxing tournament in Brazil will be the rise of Uzbekistan as a force in the sport's amateur ranks.

Uzbekistan’s boxers took a single medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games - a bronze - but at Rio 2016 they were among the contenders in almost every category and won seven medals, more than any other country.

Their two golds on the final day from Shakhobidin Zoirov in the men’s flyweight and Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in the men’s light-welterweight put them deservedly at the top of the medal table.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) was forced to send home a handful of judges and the executive director was reassigned in the wake of a series of questionable rulings, most notably the verdict of the men’s heavyweight final where Evgeny Tishchenko of Russia defeated Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan on points.

Cuba again performed strongly, winning three golds. Julio Cesar La Cruz finally added Olympic light-heavyweight gold to his three world titles while Cuban Robeisy Ramirez defended the bantamweight title he won at London 2012.

After a dismal boxing showing at London 2012, USA gained redemption with three medals. Claressa Maria Shields lived up to expectations with gold in the women’s middleweight category while fast rising youngsters Nico Hernandez and Shakur Stevenson justified their billing by clinching light-flyweight bronze and bantamweight silver respectively.

Shields became the first woman to win the Val Barker Trophy as the outstanding boxer in an Olympic Games on Sunday.and received the award shortly after beating the Netherlands' Nouchka Fontijn to defend her London 2012 title.

Four years after women were added to the Olympic boxing competition, AIBA changed its rules to award two Val Barker Trophies for the first time in Rio. Shields was joined by Uzbek light flyweight Hasanboy Dusmatov, who won the men's Val Barker one week after completing his impressive run to gold.

Shields is the sixth American to win a Val Barker Trophy, but the first since Roy Jones Jnr. in the 1988 Seoul Games. Jones was named the top boxer despite losing the gold-medal bout in scandalous fashion.

International Boxing Association President Ching-Kuo Wu attended all 16 days of the Olympic boxing tournament, and he believes Rio de Janeiro saw the best competition ever staged at the games.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press before the final gold-medal bouts, Wu spoke about his plans for the 2020 Tokyo Games, revealing AIBA will consider a move to five-round bouts using all five ringside judges' scorecards. He expects more professional boxers to compete, and he confirmed his interest in removing head guards from women's boxers and vests from men.

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