In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Indian boxer Vikas Krishan (69kg) was today ousted from the Olympics after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) overturned the result of his pre-quarterfinal bout, that he had won, following a review.
The 20-year-old had won 13-11 over Errol Spence in a thrilling contest last night but following an appeal by his rival's team management, the AIBA awarded the bout 15-13 to the American.
"There were a total of nine (9) holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round alone. However the Referee only gave one caution," the AIBA said in a statement after a review by its Competition Jury.
"In the second round, at the time 02:38, the boxer from India spitted out his gumshield intentionally. However the Referee didn't give any warning," it added.
Based on these "findings", the jury members "unanimously" decided to award Spence four points, thereby making him the winner.
"Based on the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules 12.1.9, the Referee should have given at least two (2) warnings to the Indian boxer. Although the boxer from India intentionally spitted out his gumshield, the Referee's view was blocked by the boxer from the USA and was not able to see the action," it international body said.
"...at least four points should have been awarded to the boxer from the USA. Therefore the final score should be 13:15 in favour of the USA. The protest is accepted and the winner of Bout 142 is Errol Spence (USA)," the AIBA statement added.
Vikas, only the second Indian boxer after Vijender to fetch a bronze medal in the World Championship, was among the biggest medal prospects for the country.
Earlier, India were at the wrong end of the AIBA review system when the country's appeal against the close opening-round loss of Sumit Sangwan (81kg) was rejected by the world body's competition jury.
Boxing at the ongoing Olympics has been marred by several controversies with AIBA's scoring system coming under severe criticism.
Two judges have been suspended so far after protests by participating teams.
Meanwhile, Spence has moved into the quarterfinals to face Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy on Tuesday.
"I am obviously thrilled that the competition jury overturned my decision and I can continue chasing the gold medal I came here to win," an elated Spence said.
"I am going to make the most of this second chance that I've been given. I can't wait to get back in that ring on Tuesday."
Third seed Vikas, a 2010 Asian Games gold-medallist in the 60kg category, had jumped a couple of divisions for the Olympics.
Amateur boxing's scoring system has always been a subject of controversy. Under the system, five ringside judges award points when they feel a punch has landed, making it subjective and inconsistent.
The highest and the lowest scores are discarded and a mean of the three most consistent scores is taken to decide the overall winner.
The situation improved when the AIBA adopted a computerised scoring system after the controversy-hit Seoul Olympics boxing in 1988 but scandals continue to flare up at alarming regularity.
Spence claimed that he dominated the bout and was expecting to win.
"I thought I won the fight. I thought I threw more punches and landed more shots. I thought I was the more aggressive boxer. It was kind of frustrating, but he's fighting to the computer system," he said.
Earlier, India had been left disappointed by the appeals system in badminton when Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa unsuccessfully challenged the result of a group match featuring Japan and Chinese Taipei, alleging that the teams underperformed to ensure a favourable draw in the next round.