U.S. Boxing Team Stays Alive – On a Technicality


By Charles Jay

As U.S. Olympic welterweight representative Errol Spence went down to defeat to Krishan Vikas on Friday, it brought all of America’s medal hopes to a screeching halt.

Well, now they are still alive – for the time being.

Spence lost a decision to India’s Krishan Vikas in the Round of 16, and it wasn’t the prettiest fight of all time. Vikas clutched and grabbed a lot, and despite not seeming to put a lot of offense together, scored some points in the second round. He did a lot of covering up as well. Nonetheless that appeared to provide the formula for victory. In the end, it was 13-11 in favor of Vikas.

Except it was not really the end.

USA Boxing, staring a goose egg in the face for the first time ever at the Games, had to salvage something, so it sprung into action. They filed an appeal even as Spence was at a press conference being as gracious as possible about his devastating defeat.

Part of the protest was that there was a lot of fouling committed on the part of Vikas, which should have been cited by the referee, and that he committed an out-and-out violation in the second round when he obviously spit out his mouthpiece on purpose, reacting to an awful lot of pressure Spence was putting on him. .

This process kind of works like the Supreme Court here in the U.S., in that a protest in not automatically heard; rather, there has to be a determination as to whether the protest is indeed worth hearing. After that, the hearing is actually held.

The determination of the Competition Jury was as follows:

– There were a total of nine (9) holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round alone. However the Referee only gave one caution;

– In the second round, at the time 02:38, the boxer from India spitted out his gumshield intentionally. However the Referee didn’t give any warning

And so…..

– Decision #1: Based on the AIBA Technical & Competition Rules 12.1.9, the Referee should have given at least two (2) warnings to the Indian boxer;

– Decision #2: Although the boxer from India intentionally spitted out his gumshield, the Referee’s view was blocked by the boxer from the USA and was not able to see the action;

– Final Decision: Based on Decision #1, at least four (4) points should have been awarded to the boxer from the USA. Therefore the final score should be 13-15 in favour of the USA. The protest is accepted and the winner of Bout #142 is Errol Spence (USA).

….and there’s a referee who, frankly, has a lot of explaining to do.

So the lone U.S. representative remaining will continue to compete, although the mood around the program is down considerably.

According to Basheer Abdullah, coach for the U.S. team, “We got to question the integrity of our sport sometime.” Sure, there’s some validity to that, but one should perhaps not expect much better from amateur boxing, which in many ways is more tainted than the pros.

The next bout for Spence is a Tuesday date against Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy. The United States will be living and breathing in Olympic boxing, at least until then.

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