The Drought is Over: Nico Hernandez takes home Bronze for US Boxing
By: Matthew N. Becher
Nico Hernandez came into these Olympic Games as a pretty big underdog, in fact the whole USA Boxing team did. Not having won a medal since Deontay Wilder took home a bronze in 2008 it is a daunting task to compete with so much pressure, in a sport that is already filled with enough of it.
Hernandez started the round of 32 with a Unanimous Decision win against Italy’s Manuel Cappai last Wednesday, which in itself was a great accomplishment. The entire 2012 men’s team in London only won 1 match between them.
Nico followed that up with a huge upset win over the second seeded Russian, Vasilii Egorov, again by Unanimous decision, leading him into the Quarterfinals, “Me and my coaches came in with a game plan and we executed it….I knew he was going to try and make it rough for me, so I just tried to keep my composure and stay smart with him.”
In the Quarterfinals, the unseeded Hernandez kept up his winning ways by defeating Ecuador’s Carlos Quipo and guaranteeing him a spot in the medal round. For the first time in 28 yrs. an American Light Flyweight would take home an Olympic Medal. The last to do it was Michael Carabajal in the 1988 Seoul games. “It was a little difficult but I know as I go along the fights are just gonna get harder. As long as I listen to my coaches and do what they say, I know they won’t lead me on the wrong path. They told me it was close, I hit him with a couple body shots and I feel like that slowed him down. I knew he was going to be coming forward. He’s a real strong fighter so I had to wear him down to the body and slow him down.”
Today the Cinderella story came to an end, as Hernandez lost to Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov 3-0. Dusmatov was just too strong and fast for Nico to handle. Hernandez was also cut in the fight. Hernandez said “he was just the better man today, I’m definitely disappointed, I didn’t want to go home with a bronze medal. I wanted to go home with a gold….I know win or lose, my supporters back home are proud of me.”
Hernandez is certainly right. He is a shining star in the sport now, one that many are sure to keep their eye on in the future. At only 20 years old, the kid from Wichita, Kansas should know that he made his country very proud, while adding a few historical moments as well.