New Zealand boxer David Nyika has defended Youness Baalla after the Moroccan appeared to try and bite him at the Olympic boxing tournament on Tuesday.
Heavyweight Baalla almost took a mouthful of Nyika's ear during their Olympic bout at the Kokugikan Arena on Tuesday.
Baalla somehow avoided being disqualified in the ring after letting his frustration get the better of him in the third and final round.
Behind in the last-16 clash, Baalla moved with his mouth open to his opponent's ear and appeared to attempt to bite it.
The referee did not penalise the 22-year-old, missing the incident which irked Nyika.
"Outrageous and a clear infringement of the rules," said the BBC's boxing commentator Ronald McIntosh at the time.
Nyika protested to the referee but regained his composure to win via a unanimous points decision.
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nyika, on his Olympics debut, said: "He didn't get a full mouthful," Nyika said. "Luckily he had his mouthguard in and I was a bit sweaty.
"I don't remember what I said to him but I gave him a little bit of cheek.
"I have been bitten once on the chest before at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But come on man, this is the Olympics."
Baalla later disqualified
Olympic officials determined he "very clearly intended to bite the ear/face of his opponent".
The Moroccan fighter then took to Instagram claiming he was receiving a torrent of abusive messages.
"To all the people coming from New Zealand ... with all my respect to this country but you're not showing respect to yourselves (sic)," Baalla wrote on his Instagram story.
Nyika: This is part of sport
But later on Tuesday, Nyika also took to Instagram in support of Baalla.
"The heat of battle can bring the best AND the worst out of people (sic)," he said.
"This is part of sport.
"I have nothing but respect for my opponent and can appreciate the frustration he must have felt. Please don't reach out to him if you have nothing nice to say," Nyika wrote.
Nyika will fight Uladzislau Smiahlikau from Belarus in the quarter-final on Friday.