1 US BOXER STILL FIGHTING AFTER OVERTURNED RESULT
LONDON (AP) -- A few hours after the U.S. men's boxing team thought it was done at the Olympics, amateur boxing's governing body decided Errol Spence deserved to fight on.
AIBA overturned Spence's loss to Indian welterweight Krishan Vikas late Friday night, five hours after the defense-minded Vikas had apparently clutched and grabbed his way to a 13-11 victory.
After the American team protested the result, AIBA's competition jury reviewed the bout and ruled Vikas had committed nine holding fouls in the third round alone. He also intentionally spit out his mouthpiece in the second round, which should have resulted in at least four points of deductions.
Spence advanced into the quarterfinals to face Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy on Tuesday. If he wins, the American men's team will avoid leaving the Olympics with no medals for the first time ever.
"I am obviously thrilled that the competition jury overturned my decision and I can continue chasing the gold medal I came here to win," Spence said late Friday night. "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."
Spence felt he had won the bout afterward, expecting his hand to be raised in the ring, but wasn't terribly surprised when Vikas got the nod. The welterweight from Dallas already was the last U.S. man standing after his eight male teammates lost in the previous five days, including three-time Olympian Rau'shee Warren's 19-18 loss to France's Nordine Oubaali an hour earlier.
The 2008 U.S. team won only one bronze medal in Beijing, the worst showing so far - but at least that team won six total fights, one more than the London team. The American men have won only one gold medal in the last three Olympics, by Andre Ward in Athens in 2004.
The vaunted American team has claimed at least one boxing medal in every modern Olympics where boxing was a sport except the boycotted Moscow Games, and many of the men who won them are among the giants of the sweet science.
Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. all won medals for U.S. teams, leading generations of boxing talent the world couldn't match.
The Americans' 48 gold medals and 108 total medals are easily the most in Olympic boxing history, with 45 more medals than second-place Cuba.
The London team actually won its first four fights last weekend, but then the losses piled up with alarming speed. The Americans' poor performance caps a two-decade struggle to adapt to changes in the amateur sport, with steadily declining medal counts ever since boxing went to a computerized scoring system that rewards a style with stark differences from pro boxing.
The U.S. seemed headed for a better showing last week. The 4-0 start showed its improved team chemistry after the Beijing team squabbled and argued its way to a dismal showing.
After Spence's apparent loss, Abdullah came close to suggesting the judges might have been biased against some American fighters, although he also believes U.S. boxers need years of training in the amateur sport to compete at its highest levels. Amateur boxing features five ringside judges who award points only when they believe a punch lands, rather than traditional scoring systems that evaluate skill, style, technique and aggression.
"I don't blame any (scoring) systems," Abdullah said. "I blame the people that operate them. I'm disappointed in some of the things I'm seeing."
Spence knew the feeling after three rounds of trying to break through the passive guard of Vikas, who fights a rigid amateur style emphasizing defense and tactical aggression. India's amateur boxing scene has surged in popularity in the four years since Vijender Singh won his nation's first Olympic medal in Beijing, with thousands of prospective Olympians training in the amateur style with no intention of ever turning pro.
"I thought I won the fight," said Spence, a talented puncher who intends to turn pro this fall, along with most of his teammates. "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."
Warren's loss was particularly heartbreaking. The undersized dynamo nicknamed "Nuke" twice passed on a pro career and a chance to provide financially for his growing family to take another shot at hanging a gold medal around the neck of his mother, Paulette.
He waited well over a decade for this moment, climbing the amateur ranks in his native Cincinnati and avoiding the pitfalls that put two of his three brothers in prison. He got to the top of the amateur sport - and then stumbled at the three biggest moments of his career.
Warren wept in Beijing when he lost his opening bout on a last-minute tactical error. Four years and another one-point loss later, he seemed dulled to the pain of going winless in his unmatched Olympic career.
And he won't be back for Rio: Warren said he'll turn pro, probably along with every member of his team.
"It ain't really no setback for me," Warren said. "I've got big things coming up. This isn't the end for Rau'shee Warren."
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