U.S. boxer Shakur Stevenson takes silver in split decision

RIO DE JANEIRO — The jabs were still flying after American boxer Shakur Stevenson lost to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez Saturday in the gold medal match of the bantamweight division.

In assessing the fight between Stevenson, the 19-year-old American, and Ramirez, the 22-year-old Cuban, that ended in a split decision, Team USA  coach Billy Walsh said, “It was a boy against a man today.’’

When told of the comment, Stevenson retorted, “What did Billy win when he was an amateur and went to the Olympics? Nothing.’’

Indeed, Walsh lost his only bout when he represented Ireland at the 1988 Olympics.

It was a sensitive moment Saturday for Stevenson in the aftermath of his loss in the 123-pound division. He lost the first round, rallied to win the second then was on the wrong end of a flurry of punches in the third round awarded to the Cuban, who also won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.

Though his silver medal signaled progress for the American men’s team that failed to medal at the 2012 London Games and has been taken over by Walsh, Stevenson sobbed inconsolably before meeting with reporters. He was considered the USA’s best hope to win a gold medal in men’s boxing since Andre Ward won a gold in the light heavyweight division at the Athens Games. But he looked outclassed against Ramirez, who won a gold medal at the 2012 London Games.

“I feel like I let a lot of people down,’’ he said. “I’m crushed, but I’m going to come back stronger.’’

Floyd Mayweather has been in attendance to watch the prized fighter that Mayweather hopes to represent when Stevenson goes professional. Stevenson said he hasn’t signed with a manager but did indicate he intends to turn pro and fight for world championships — something Stevenson said would prevent him from being able to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I’m not going to the pros with a gold medal like I wanted, but, hey,’’ he said, shrugging his shoulders. “They should be expect me to be one of the best boxers coming up.’’

He got started on promoting a future fight, too — a rematch with Ramirez. Both grinned at talk of facing off in the ring again, albeit time and place to be determined.

“‘Hopefully they allow Cuba to go to the pros in America because I definitely want to fight him again,’’ Stevenson said. “I promise it’s going to be a different story.’’

Josh Peter, USA Today

August 21, 2016

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