"This is like a dream come true. Some days, I feel like I'm still dreaming," said Gausha, a Glenville graduate who a year ago weighed more than 200 pounds and was nearly out of boxing.
Gausha lost the first round 4-3 and the second round was a draw at 4-4. The third round was a wild scramble.
Gausha stumbled to his knees and into the ropes early, but kept his composure and astutely kept just out of reach from the taller Hakobyan while still remaining aggressive.
Gausha dropped Hakobyan midway through the round with an overhand right. Hakobyan, ranked 23rd in the world, recovered and the unranked Gausha chased him into a corner with seven seconds left. Gausha dropped him again with a hard double-jab combination. The final bell rang as Hakobyan was counted out, and in Olympic boxing, a boxer cannot be saved by the bell. The victory went to Gausha as a stoppage, or knockout.
Gausha was not aware until told in the media mixed zone that time had expired.
"It was a close fight, a little bit too close for comfort, but I knew I had to go for it. I knew I had to leave it all in the ring [in the third round]," said Gausha, who admitted to being nervous early. "This is definitely a confidence booster."
In the stands, Gausha's mother Teretha Jones, sister Talisha Brown, and friends Noel Salwan and Courtney Cline cheered wildly.
"I am so proud of him, achieving what he loves to do," his mother said later, after getting a long hug from Gausha.
U.S. teammate Rau'shee Warren of Cincinnati was among several teammates who mobbed Gausha when he emerged from the dressing room.
"He looked very strong. He started a little slow, but he picked it up the last round," Warren said. "We're in shape. Some of these fighters that we've been watching, they've been getting tired in the third round. We've been training for this."