Boxing recap: London gold medalist loses out, USA recoups

London gold medalist Roniel Iglesias is out of the Olympic boxing tournament.

The Cuban welterweight lost a unanimous decision to Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov in an extraordinarily high-level fight Saturday. Giyasov celebrated with a scream after beating one of the world’s top Olympic-style boxers.

Iglesias won gold in 2012 and bronze in 2008 as a light welterweight, but the 27-year-old moved to welterweight for his third Olympics. He was gracious in defeat, blaming himself for not doing more to counter the extraordinary skills of Giyasov, one of the top emerging talents from his nation’s dominant boxing team.

Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez is the only man left with the chance to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals. Ramirez, who won in London as a flyweight, qualified for Rio as a bantamweight and won his first fight this week.

The U.S. men’s boxing team continues to build on its strong start in Rio.

Flyweight Antonio Vargas became the fourth American man to win at the Olympics when he gritted out a majority decision over awkward Brazilian Juliao Neto.

Despite demonstrating superior skill against a 34-year-old opponent, the 19-year-old Vargas was in trouble on the scorecards until the referee deducted a point from Neto in the third round, either for head-butting or holding. The small Brazilian crowd generated plenty of noise, but Vargas blocked it out.

“It was hard for me to keep my cool in that fight, because you hear the atmosphere and you feel the stage rumbling,” Vargas said. “That’s one of my first fights that I can say, ‘Man, I felt nervous.’ I had to pick it up.”

After a nine-man team won only five fights and zero medals in London, the six-man American team in Rio has already won seven fights and light flyweight Nico Hernandez’s bronze medal. Gary Antuanne Russell and Vargas are still alive in their weight divisions, and top medal hope Shakur Stevenson doesn’t even begin competition until Sunday.

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