French super-heavyweight Mourad Aliev bizarrely claimed he was the victim of "an act of sabotage" as he staged a sit-down protest after being disqualified from his Olympic quarter-final.
Aliev was fighting Great Britain's Frazer Clarke when their tussle was stopped by referee Andrew Mustacchio in the second round at the Kokugikan Arena.
He was punished for use of the head but complained that he had not been warned by the referee before the fight was halted.
Aliev said: "I sat down to protest against the unfairness for me. I really wanted to fight against the injustice, so that was my way to show that I don't agree with that decision."
He had won the first round on three of the five judges' scorecards and said of his sudden elimination: "I was just stopped without any warning and they just told me that 'you lost' – just like that. So I think it was an act of sabotage.
"I fought my whole life. I prepared my whole life for this event, so getting mad for something like that is natural."
Clarke described the situation as "a bit confusing" and urged Aliev to rein in his complaints.
"I didn't want him to damage his reputation or to be rude to the judges and officials, because they're only doing their job," Clarke said.
Aliev was allowed to carry out his protest as the fight was the last on the schedule in Sunday's opening session, meaning it caused no delays.
"I felt there was a couple of heads going in there if I'm honest," Clarke said. "Whether it's intentional or not I don't know. Orthodox boxing a southpaw, it often happens.
"I'm not going to stand here and say that he did it on purpose because I'm sure that he wouldn't have wanted to have finished his Olympics the way that it has."
French boxing team general manager John Dovi protested: "The Englishman was cut with regular punches, not the head. Mourad therefore received a totally unjustified warning."
Can’t believe I’m having to write this tweet … the way that bout ended was out of my hands .. it was a competitive fight for me one round each going into the last … but I will not be called a cheater or anything of the sort I was in there doing my job— Frazer Clarke (@BigFrazeBoxer) August 1, 2021
PICTURE PERFECT FOR WHITTAKER
Britain had a strong day at the boxing, with Ben Whittaker reaching the light-heavyweight final after a majority points verdict against hard-punching Russian Imam Khataev.
He will face Arlen Lopez of Cuba in Wednesday's final. Lopez won middleweight gold at the Rio Olympics.
Whittaker explained his pre-fight inspiration, saying: "My coach, every Christmas he used to buy me a Muhammad Ali photo from the Olympics when he's standing on the podium and he had the gold medal at 81kg.
"He said, 'This is going to be you'.
"Just before I came into the arena he sent me the photo and said, 'It's time, baby'. I replied back, 'It is time'.
"I’ve got the chance to do it now. Every kid's dream as an amateur is getting to that Olympic final and now I've got to change that colour to gold."
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
Turkey's Buse Naz Cakiroglu guaranteed herself at least bronze by reaching the flyweight semi-finals, seeing off Thailand's Jutamas Jitpong by unanimous verdict.
The World Championship silver medallist considered it a victory for herself and the future of boxing in her homeland.
And if it means a little less of a quiet life when she returns, then the boxer who is affiliated to the Fenerbahce sports club is prepared to accept that.
"We were already on this road by getting good scores, good results in the European Championship, World Championship and there are little girls that come to my house to get my signature," she said.
"I believe that by getting successful in the Olympics, this will increase and we will inspire more little girls."
CUBAN TEST FOR McCORMACK
Britain's Pat McCormack was handed a free pass through to the welterweight final after Irish opponent Aidan Walsh pulled out of their last-four clash with an ankle injury.
Blocking the path to the gold medal will be Cuban Roniel Iglesias, who won light welterweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
Although both are experienced fighters, this will be their first clash, and the stakes could hardly be any higher.
"No, I never fought against him," Iglesias confirmed. "That is interesting that it will be the final of the Olympics, so I will just try to win."