Olympic Welterweights: Spence is Gone, and So Is the U.S. Team


The hopes of the United States men’s team in Olympic competition are now over.

Errol Spence, who got by his Round of 16 match against India’s Krishan Vikas when the decision was overturned on technicalities, could not take full advantage of the new life he had. In the quarterfinals he took on fellow southpaw Andrey Zamkovoy of Russia, who was taller and rangier and, as it turned out, had just a little too much for Spence.

Zamkovoy took the first two rounds by a point apiece, as Spence, though throwing a jab to decent effect, was simply not landing enough to make an impression on the judges.

In the third round, Spence picked up the pace, as best he could, and knowing that he had some ground to make up, came with more right hooks. When you’re behind in a fight, it is tough to have the patience to establish a jab and work behind it, although an approach like that might have done Spence some more good.

He seemed to have made the final stanza close, but one never knows how the judges appointed by the AIBA are going to score, because some very erratic decisions have been seen so far.

The final tally had Zamkovoy winning the final round by an even wider margin than he had the first two (7-4), which completed the 16-11 victory.

In a post-fight interview with NBC, Spence credited Zamkovoy with being a “great opponent” and admitted that he probably “picked it up too late,” but by the same token he felt as if he won at least two of the rounds, and was even in the other.

The next stop for Spence is the pro ranks, and he concluded that the foes he faced in this Olympiad – Vikas, Zamkovoy and Mike Carvalho of Brazil – helped in his preparation for the pros.

NBC commentator BJ Flores, a current pro cruiserweight, remarked after the bout that the USA boxing program may have to “go back to the drawing board,” while also pointing out that the athletes generally are looking to pro careers, and train with the pros in mind, which may affect their amateur performance, given that there is a different scoring criteria.

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