Lee Groves

10: Notable Olympic boxing controversies

 8. October 1, 1988 – Ivailo Hristov (Bulgaria) W 3 Michael Carbajal (USA)

Carbajal reached the light flyweight final by edging fellow gold medal favorite Oh Kwang Soo of South Korea 3-2 and sweeping past Vietnam’s Dang Nieu Hu (RSC 1), Canada’s Scotty Olson (5-0) and Hungary’s Robert Isaszegi (4-1) while Hristov scored 5-0 decisions over Britain’s Mark Epton, El Savador’s Henry Martinez, the Soviet Union’s Alexandr Makhmutov and the Philippine’s Leopoldo Serrantes. Aside from Oh, Hristov and Carbajal proved themselves to be the cream of the crop and their clashing styles promised an interesting battle.

Hristov edged Carbajal in round one with his jitterbug style, paintbrush jabs and light but accurate rights. Carbajal dominated the second round by driving Hristov back and repeatedly snapping his head with strong rights while the third saw Carbajal lead early but Hristov rally late. Still, the prevailing thought was that Carbajal had done enough to win and NBC’s Count-a-Punch (a.k.a. CompuBox) had Carbajal leading 49-39, mostly on the strength of his 25-11 second round.

But all five judges saw the fight differently — and identically — as they turned in 59-58 scorecards for Hristov. The Bulgarian’s corner received a heads-up from the highest source in the tournament — countryman and AIBA judges and referees chief Emil Zhechev. Being the first man to view the cards, Zhechev looked up and gave the coaches a wink. At that they grabbed Hristov and started showering him with kisses.

As for Carbajal, the only thing he received was a bitter kiss-off. 

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