Muslim Gadzhimagomedov was the first boxer of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to advance to the gold medal round.
The heavyweight representative of the independent team prevailed in the semi-finals on Tuesday afternoon in the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo with a split-decision victory against the New Zealander David Nyika. A score of 30-27 for Nyika was overruled by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Gadzhimagomedov, who is one of six fighters from the ROC on the medal.
Nyika was never out of the fight from bell to bell, but far too often she was a beat or two behind when exchanging keys. Gadzhimagomedov used his size and reach correctly, offering a long push, often followed by the right hand upwards.
Both boxers committed themselves to every stroke, never more than in the third and final round. Nyika never stopped fighting like victory was within reach, even if a decisive win was mathematically off the table. Gadzhimagomedov did not sit on his leash, but stood upright in the center ring and traded with Nyika, who was effective for the body during internal exchanges.
Nyika, who is 1-0 as a professional, takes bronze as the only member of the New Zealand boxing team in Tokyo.
Gadzhimagomedov will now wait for the winner of the other semifinal fight evening to determine his opponent in the gold medal round. The representative of the ROC heavyweight is expected to prevail on Tuesday evening local time between Julio La Cruz (Cuba) and Abner Teixeira (Brazil).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox