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(BEIJING, CHINA) – Two U.S. boxers were left standing as quarterfinal competition began on Sunday, but only one advanced to the semifinal round at the Olympic Games. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) pulled out a tiebreaker victory over Morocco’s Mohammed Arjaoui to advance on to the medal rounds while Welterweight World Champion Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) fell to 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Jung Joo Kim of Korea by an 11-9 margin. Wilder, the least experienced boxer on the United States team guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal with another trademark fourth round comeback.
Wilder took the ring only two bouts after watching his teammate Andrade lose a close contest, and it clearly affected him early in the match. He fell behind 2-0 in the first round but mounted a late comeback to end the round knotted at two. Wilder came back in the second round looking to take his first lead, but it was Arjaoui holding the slim 4-3 advantage at the halfway mark of the bout. He started off strongly in the third round, looking to use his tremendous reach and height advantage, but once again trailed by one point as the round ended. Wilder stepped into the ring for the fourth round knowing that the next two minutes would determine the bout and as he has so many times in the past, he started his comeback. Wilder tied the bout up early in the round but Arjaoui quickly reclaimed the lead. Yet after the referee took a point from Arajoui midway through the round, Wilder held a 10-9 advantage. It looked like he would claim the 10-9 late in the round before Arjaoui scored in the final 20 seconds to pull the bout to a tie and when the final bell rang, the two boxers were deadlocked at 10. Wilder and Arjaoui stood in the center of the ring awaiting their fate before the red paddle was raised and Wilder announced the winner on a 23-22 accepted score.
Tiebreakers are broken by accepted scores in Olympic boxing with each of the five judges’ accepted scores being added together and the high and low thrown out The individual accepted scores are based upon the amount of scoring blows each judge records, which are then accepted by at least two additional judges.
“I wasn’t 100% Deontay in the ring. I’ve been with my teammates for a whole year and we have built a great bond together, they are my family, we are like brothers. When I saw Andrade come in there crying, immediately I got emotional,” Wilder said. “I told him to stop because he was making me cry and lose focus. So coming out here, I wasn’t 100% focused but God was still on my side. I know my next competition is going to be a little tougher so I’m going to have to get more focused.”
Wilder is out of action until the semifinal round on Friday, August 22, when he will face Italy’s Clemente Russo. “I’m going to get back in training. My coach always told me when we win, we celebrate for five or 10 minutes and then after that, it’s back to focusing on the next opponent and that’s what I’m going to do,” Wilder said. “I’m glad for this win, but I know I’m going to have to go harder the next time around.”
Andrade took the ring first at the Workers Indoor Arena and his first round was a tactical chess match throughout with neither boxer looking to engage, causing the referee to warn both boxers twice to throw punches. Kim scored the lone point of the opening round in the final second to take a 1-0 lead after the first. Andrade came out firing in the second, but again trailed by one point after four minutes of boxing. He continued to try and dent Kim’s lead in the third, looking to land body shots and combinations but faced an 8-6 deficit as the final round began. Andrade pulled the bout to within one in the final minute but couldn’t claim the lead and lost the 11-9 final decision.
“I thought I landed and threw a lot of punches, but the judges weren’t giving me my points and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried to go to the body, slow him down, it was working but I wasn’t getting any points for it,” Andrade said. “I was laughing because I knew I was fighting a Korean, and I was thinking they might pull the Jones on me and they did. Jones lost to the Korean and so did I.”