U.S. men’s boxing fails to medal in 2012 London Olympics

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For the first time in Olympic history, the U.S. men’s boxing team is headed home without any medals.

Welterweight Errol Spence was the last American boxer to be eliminated Tuesday when he was defeated by Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy in the quarterfinals. The loss solidified a journey that will end up being remembered as the most disappointing outing for the U.S. boxing team.

Much was said after the disappointment from Beijing in 2008, but at least heavyweight Deontay Wilder earned bronze.

“It’s very disappointing for all of us, but we all fought hard and tried,” Spence told the Associated Press.

In his quarterfinals fight, Spence failed to land the cleaner shots as Zamkovoy won the fight 16-11. Spence fought well and targeted the body, but amateur boxing’s controversial scoring system focuses on single, cleaner shots instead of combinations.

It was that same controversial scoring system that originally had Spence out in the second round. Initially, Spence was announced the loser of his second round bout against India’s Krishan Vikas in a mind-boggling decision when it seemed Spence had dominated throughout. However, after filling a protest, the International Amateur Boxing Association overturned the decision based on the referee not warning Vikas for holding and spitting out his mouthpiece.

Still, even with the overturning, Spence’s fight against Zamkovoy wasn’t good enough for him to advance. This time, Spence did he legitimately lost.

“I’m glad a better guy beat me this time, because I didn’t like the way I went out last time,” he said. “I just tried to fight my fight, and it didn’t work out. He was the better man.”

The rest of Team USA failed to do much better. Midway through the round of 16, only Jose Ramirez, Terrell Gausha and Rau’shee Warren remained besides Spence. Before that, five others were eliminated in either the round of 32 or the round of 16.

Even before Spence was eliminated, it didn’t take long for the rest of the remaining Team USA members to be picked off. Lightweight Jose Ramirez was the first to go as he lost a 15-11 decision against Gaibnazarov Fazliddin of Uzbekistan. Later in the afternoon, middleweight Terrell Gausha lost a controversial decision to India’s Vijender, 16-15.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Olympic Games for the U.S. men’s boxing was the exit of co-captain Warren in his first fight. Warren, who was previously on the team in 2004 and 2008, seemed like the team’s best chance to medal due to his vast amount of amateur experience. However, his performance against Nordine Ouballi of France would say otherwise.

Following a solid first round, which Warren won 9-6, Warren slowly let the fight slip away from him. In the second round, Ouballi became more aggressive and Warren failed to adapt. Ouballi mounted the comeback by edging out the third round as well, earning a 19-18 decision.

With the losses to Team USA, many former boxers criticized the program afterwards. Former fighter Oscar De La Hoya, who won gold at Barcelona in ’92, took to Twitter to voice his frustrations about the team.

“That’s it! I’m going to request Mark Breland, Sugar Ray Leonard and my self coach the next Olympic boxing team,” De La Hoya tweeted. “I have too much passion for the sport I love dearly. Will do something about it!”

Super middleweight champion Andre Ward expressed similar frustration to ESPN’s Dan Rafael. Ward won gold in ’04 and is one of the best fighters in the sport today.

“There’s been a fire for years now. It’s horrible,” Ward told Rafael. “Whatever the problems are, though, they can be fixed. These kids in London have given it their best, but when our country looks like this, it’s not good for the sport, not good for our country and not even good for professional boxing.”

What has been made clear in these Games is that a major overhaul needs to be done for the U.S. to get back to its past glory. U.S. assistant coach Charles Levertte recognized this when talking to the Associated Press.

“I think the foundation is kind of crumbling a little bit, but we’re going to rebuild it,” he said.

“The support is there, but we have to figure out the best way to help these athletes get back to the top.”