Keyshawn Davis will fight for gold.
The U.S. lightweight advanced past Armenian Hovhannes Bachkov, using superior hand speed and movement to counter Bachkov's attempts to impose his strength on the fight.
Though Davis had a point deducted in the second round, the decision was unanimous. Davis won the first and third round on all five judges' cards. The second went 3-2 to Bachkov, leaving the fighters tied 28-28 on three judges' cards, but all three voted to give the fight to the American.
Twice in the first round, the two fighters locked up and fell to the canvas. With the first, Davis got up first and glared down at his opponent.
Davis faces a difficult task in the final against Cuba's Andy Cruz, the 2019 world champion, who had little trouble with Australia's Harry Garside. Cruz won every round on all five judges' cards, including a couple of 10-8 decisions in the third, when the referee gave Garside a standing-eight count.
Cruz, the third seed, is the only seeded fighter remaining. Davis forced a referee stoppage against top seed Sofiane Oumiha of France in the Round of 16.
No American man has won an Olympic gold medal since Andre Ward did it in 2004. Duke Ragan had a chance to break the drought but lost his gold medal bout at featherweight. Davis and super heavyweight Richard Torrez will each have a shot as well.
Officiating continues to be puzzling in the boxing competitions, with "head up" and "no holding" warnings issued seemingly at random. The first two bouts of the session, the women's middleweight semifinals, included three deducted points. Davis was once warned to keep his head up while Bachkov held it down.
The women's middleweight division will feature a battle of the top two seeds, though referee interventions made both semifinals interesting.
Men's heavyweight championship
Cuba's Julio la Cruz, the 2016 light heavyweight gold medalist, had an astonishingly easy time with world champion and top seed Muslim Gadzhimagomedov of the ROC in the gold medal bout.
La Cruz, whose career was interrupted when he was shot in a robbery attempt in 2014, moved around the ring with his hands by his hips, presenting a moving target that Gadzhimagomedov was rarely able to hit. At the end of the second round, Gadzhimagomedov landed a shot that knocked la Cruz down, but it seemed to be more of a function of the Cuban fighter being off balance rather than being caught with a powerful shot.
More often than not, Gadzhimagomedov wound up on the receiving end as la Cruz threw accurate, unpredictably timed punches.
Former soccer player fights for gold
In the 2019 World Championship, British middleweight boxer Lauren Price needed an appeal to defeat the Netherlands' Nouchka Fontijn in the final. This time, the former Welsh soccer and netball player took the decision without a postmatch conversation — barely. The Dutch boxer took three of the five judges' cards in the first round. Price flipped it to 3-2 her favor in the second but also had a point deducted. She won four judges' nods in the third round, leading to an odd collection of scores — two 29-27 cards for Fontijn, one 29-27 for Price and two 28-28 cards. The judges who voted 28-28 broke their ties in favor of Price, giving her a 3-2 decision in a fight that simply had no clear winner.
Price, the top seed in the bracket, will face second-seeded Li Quan of China, who outclassed the ROC's Zenfira Magomedalieva in a bout in which another referee insinuated himself into the action, deducting a point from both fighters in the second round. Li, the 2016 bronze medalist and 2018 world champion, has won every round on every judge's scorecard aside from a 3-2 split in the first round of her first bout.