By Padraic Halpin
LONDON (Reuters) - Egor Mekhontcev made sure Russia would not leave the ring without a gold medal on Sunday when he came from behind to beat Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov to the light-heavyweight title by the tightest of margins.
Russia, whose sports minister accused hosts Britain of using political clout to win medals at the London Games, won more boxing medals than anyone else but faced the prospect of returning home with three silvers and three bronzes.
Minister Vitaly Mutko singled out Russia's boxers, saying three of their fighters had been "prevented" from getting to finals but Mekhontcev was not to be denied when he won by the closest margin seen yet in a deciding bout.
After the scores were level at 15-15 and countback could not split the pair, Mekhontcev claimed the victory on the judges individual preference, the only final to be called in the sudden death manner.
Like compatriot Serik Sapiyev who won Kazakhstan's first gold of the Games earlier on Sunday, Niyazymbetov hid behind his right jab for the first round and was possibly fortunate to take it by four points to three.
But former world heavyweight champion Mekhontcev hit back in the second, clocking the world championship silver medallist with a couple of big rights to level the scores.
The long wait for a result after the final round was probably the most engrossing moment in a dull contest that was far less exciting than when the great Muhammad Ali won gold in the same division in 1960.
Losing semi-finalists Oleksandr Gvozdyk of Ukraine and Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino of Brazil took bronze.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)