Russia’s relentless Albert Batyrgaziev beat Duke Ragan to win the Olympic featherweight boxing title on Thursday, prolonging the United States’ 17-year drought since their last men’s gold in the sport.
Despite Ragan’s defeat, the US have enjoyed a revival in boxing in Tokyo under their respected Irish coach Billy Walsh and they still have two more shots at gold.
The 23-year-old Ragan, who has already turned professional and boasts a 4-0 win-loss record, was already breathing heavily in the second round against the all-action Russian.
Batyrgaziev, also 23, took the title on a split decision.
The US still have golden hopes. Keyshawn Davis competes in Friday’s lightweight semi-final and on Sunday, the last day of the Olympics, Richard Torrez goes in the super-heavyweight final.
So far in the boxing in Tokyo, hosts Japan have won one gold, Cuba two and now one for the Russians.
The United States are the most successful nation in the history of Olympic boxing.
But since the 1970s and 1980s, and the days of Leon Spinks and “Sugar” Ray Leonard, they have fallen away.
Andre Ward’s gold at Athens in 2004 was their last men’s boxing Olympic title.