Tokyo Olympics: Shooting survivor La Cruz chases boxing gold hat-trick after Games triumph

By Sports Desk August 06, 2021

Julio Cesar La Cruz set his sights on winning a third Olympic boxing gold medal in Paris after landing heavyweight glory at Tokyo 2020 on Friday.

The powerful Cuban, who was shot in the hip during an attempted robbery in January 2014, added to the light heavyweight title he won in Rio five years ago

The 31-year-old now believes he can stay at the top until the 2024 Olympics.

La Cruz beat the Russian Olympic Committee's reigning world champion Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, who took silver, by unanimous verdict.

Two judges scored the gold medal bout 30-27 in favour of La Cruz and the other three settled on 29-28 decisions.

The success means Cuba have won three boxing golds in Tokyo, with La Cruz proud of his performance at the Kokugikan Arena.

"There was a lot of attention on the fight as he is the current world champion, but my team and trainers gave me a lot of confidence that I could win the fight, and they were right," La Cruz said. "They said that I had to believe in myself."

There appears to be no lack of self-belief with La Cruz, who added: "I've got two Games gold medals now but Paris is only three years away. I'll go to the next Olympics and try to win a third gold medal for my country."

Having won four world titles at light heavyweight, La Cruz is new to the higher weight category and seizing his opportunity to be a dual weight master.

After surviving the shooting seven years ago, La Cruz is keen to grasp every chance he gets to succeed.

"First of all when that happened it was tough," he said, "but I never lost hope.

"I had to heal for some time, but the Cuban doctors did a marvellous job and thanks to my hope and faith, my family and my mother, the Cuban people and Cuban doctors, the psychologists that helped me, I'm here today and was able to notch those two [gold medal] victories and I thought I deserved it."

The bullet that struck his hip remains in the family, La Cruz confirmed.

"My mother has it, as a token of remembrance of what happened there," he said.


USA STAR DAVIS PREDICTS 'EASY' FINAL

Cuban Andy Cruz awaits Keyshawn Davis in the lightweight final, which will take place on Sunday.

Ask American Davis how he sees that going and the 22-year-old professional boxer will fire back a confident answer, despite losing to Cruz in the World Championship final two years ago.

"I feel like that's going to be an easy fight, man," Davis said on Friday. "I feel like it's going to be easier for me. Like I said, I'm bigger, stronger, faster, smarter."

He made that declaration after beating Armenia's Hovhannes Bachkov in Friday's semi-final.

The United States remain without a men's Olympics boxing gold medal since the Athens 2004 Games.

Related items

  • Joshua refuses to rule out stepping aside to let Fury fight Usyk Joshua refuses to rule out stepping aside to let Fury fight Usyk

    Anthony Joshua says he would consider stepping aside from his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk to allow the Ukrainian to fight Tyson Fury.

    Joshua is set to fight Usyk for a second time in early 2022 after losing to the 34-year-old, who claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts on a unanimous points decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

    WBC Champion Tyson Fury, after defeating Deontay Wilder in the final bout of a gruelling trilogy, is waiting on a decision whether a title fight will be ordered with Dillian Whyte, who wants to be sanctioned as the mandatory challenger.

    However, Fury's ambition is to fight Usyk in a battle to become the undisputed champion, leading to calls from the 'Gypsy King' for his fellow Englishman Joshua to step aside.

    For the first time a Fury-Usyk bout seems a possibility, with Joshua conceding he would consider skipping the sequel temporarily for both respect in boxing and financial gain.

    "I think people know not to approach me with that rubbish," Joshua told IFL TV when asked if he had been offered a deal to skip the rematch. "That is bulls***. It may have come to my team, but they know not to bring that to me.

    "Let me be real, it's not about the money, it's about the respect. What I want out of this game, number one is respect. You don't have to like me, but you will respect me. 

    "Second thing is to go down as a throwback fighter, somebody who was willing to fight the best in their division so people know me as a true fighter.

    "In terms of [stepping] aside, I don't know if that goes in line with what I morally stand for. But let me be real, I want to be known as one of the smartest businessmen as well.

    "I used to watch Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, we all know the stories of NFL players, basketball players, they make bad decisions. I wanted to make sure I make the smart moves when it comes to this business. If the money is right, you have to look at it.

    "You have to look at it. But respect to me has a lot more value than money. Respect first, what I'm known for when I leave this division, then being the smartest businessman in my career. 

    "That step aside thing, it may not go with what I stand for in terms of bringing me respect, fighting the best, but it may make sense for business."

  • Beaten lightweight champion Lopez insists: I won! Beaten lightweight champion Lopez insists: I won!

    Teofimo Lopez insisted he was not a "sore loser" after his shock defeat to George Kambosos, but he added: "I won tonight."

    Lopez suffered his first career defeat and lost his IBF, WBA (Super) and WBO lightweight titles in shock fashion against Kambosos on Saturday.

    The champion had promised a first-round knockout but was instead himself on the canvas early. Although Kambosos was knocked down in the 10th, he did enough to secure a split decision victory.

    The long-awaited fight at Madison Square Garden, which saw a series of date changes, led Kambosos to declare himself "the emperor".

    "I can't believe how good I boxed," he added, although for Lopez the disbelief centred around the result.

    "He's a hell of a fighter, but I won tonight, everybody knows that," he said. "The referee raised my hand.

    "I won tonight; I don't care what anybody says, I won tonight. At the end of the day, I've been here, I've done that, I want to thank God, I want to thank everybody that came out tonight.

    "Look, I ain't no sore loser, I take my wins like I take my losses. At the end of the day, man, I'm a true champion, I did what I had to do, and I went out there and did my best.

    "I don't care what anybody says, man, I am as real as they come, and this is the takeover, man, we don't stop, we keep coming.

    "At the end of the day, man, I love you all, I won this fight."

  • Kambosos shocks Lopez to claim lightweight title with split decision win Kambosos shocks Lopez to claim lightweight title with split decision win

    George Kambosos Jr has beaten undefeated world champion Teofimo Lopez in a major upset to claim the IBF, WBO, WBA and The Ring lightweight world champion.

    Kambosos was crowned the new lightweight world champion by split decision, 115-111, 115-113, 113-114 over 24-year-old American Lopez.

    In a tight tussle, 28-year-old Australian Kambosos knocked down Lopez in the first round with a overhand right-hand hit amid an energetic start, leaving the New York crowd shocked.

    Kambosos defied expectations and was on top throughout the middle rounds before Lopez rallied in the ninth round with a few booming right-hand shots.

    In the 10th round, Lopez dropped the Australian to the canvas with a chopping right-hand hit although Kambosos returned to his feet to fight on to victory.

    "I believed in myself, I backed myself and I said it time after time," Kambosos said after the fight. “You might not believe it, but I believe in myself. Look at me now, I’ve got all of the jewels.

    "Look at me now, I’ve got all the jewels. I’m not the king, I’m the emperor because I come to every other country and I take them out one by one."

    Lopez disputed the result after the fight, claiming he dominated although that was met by jeers from the New York crowd.

    Japanese boxer Kenichi Ogawa defeated Azinga Fuzile after dropping him three times in a dominant display to win the vacant IBF world super featherweight title in the co-main event.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.