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Boxing referee expelled from Olympics after controversial bout

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(AP)

A sport in its last throes of relevance was dealt another staggering blow on Thursday when a boxing referee was expelled from the Olympics after a controversial decision that stood as one of the more disgraceful in the sordid history of the sport.

Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan was sanctioned for failing to stop a bout in which a fighter from Azerbaijan was knocked to the ground six times in a round.

[Photos: Olympic boxing]

Remarkably, the fighter, Magomed Abdulhamidov, was awarded the round on the judges' scorecards and won a 22-17 decision against Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu. That ruling was overturned Wednesday night after a Japanese appeal. International boxing officials ruled that the referee should have counted three of the knockdowns and stopped the fight.

"I was shocked by the final scores," Shimizu told reporters after the match. "Why didn't I win? I don't understand."

[Related: Military men lead U.S. boxing's revitalization]

Abdulhamidov led the bout early but was in danger of falling behind late thanks to a barrage from Shimizu. The Azerbaijan fighter tried to run out the clock and rely on his previous points to advance to the quarterfinal, beginning stall tactics that included flopping to the ground and stopping to adjust a headgear that wasn't in need of adjustment. At one point, Meretnyyazov stopped the fight to help him do so.

Last year, Azerbaijan was alleged to have paid millions to an international boxing organization in order to assure its fighters would win two gold medals in London. The country denied the BBC report.

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