Delante Johnson took his second straight split decision to advance to the men's welterweight quarterfinals, overcoming a tough test in southpaw Ablaikhan Zhussupov of Kazakhstan, the dominant nation in this weight class in this century.
Nicknamed "Tiger" due to a birthmark, the Cleveland native struggled to reach this stage with a split-decision win over Argentina's Brian Augustin Arregui. This time, he looked confident in the first round with a potent jab, but Zhussupov won the round on the three of the five judges' scorecards. In the second round, Johnson started to wear down his opponent and impressed all five judges. By the third, Johnson looked to be in control and won the round with four of the five judges.
The final count was also 4-1: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29.
As has been so often the case in boxing at these Olympics, the referee issued repeated warnings to each boxer for alleged holding, interrupting the flow of the bout and prompting both fighters to hold out their arms to demonstrate that they were not. Johnson held his poise throughout and didn't seem flustered.
Kazakhstan has won the last four gold medals in this division. The United States hasn't won a medal here since Kenneth Gould took bronze in 1988, four years after Mark Breland won gold.
To win a medal, Johnson has to get through Cuba's Roniel Iglesias, who won the light welterweight gold in 2012 and was fifth in this weight class in Rio. Iglesias also hasn't taken a unanimous decision win in these Olympics, taking his first bout 3-2 after receiving a bye.