By: Hans Themistode
The Olympic experience for United States standouts Keyshawn Davis and Richard Torrez Jr. was near perfect.
Davis, a gold medal hopeful from the lightweight division, placed his career on hold in the hopes of going all the way. Currently standing at 3-0 as a pro, Davis originally planned on making the trip to the Olympics in 2020 before turning pro. However, with COVID-19 ultimately turning the quadrennial event upside down, and with the games then rebooted for 2021, Davis didn’t hesitate to enter his name.
Things were somewhat easy for Davis early on, he scored an Olympic rarity in knocking out Sofiane Oumiha to kick things off, before outclassing and outshining Gabil Mamedov of Russia and Hovhannes Bachkov of Armenia.
But while Davis dominated the competition, on the other side of the bracket, Cuba’s Andy Cruz was quietly doing the same. Cruz wiped the floor with Luke McCormack of Great Britain, Wanderson de Oliveira of Brazil and Harry Garside of Australia.
With both Cruz and Davis protruding amongst the rest of their contemporaries, the two would meet in the gold medal final earlier tonight.
Similarly, the same storyline was taking place in the super heavyweight division. Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov pitched shutouts against Satish Kumar of India and Mahammad Abdullayev of Azerbaijan before stopping Frazier Clarke of Great Britain. But just as Jalolov audaciously pushed aside his competition, so did Torrez Jr.
Chouaib Bouloudinats of Algeria and Dainier Pero of Cuba were overmatched over three rounds while Kamshybek Kunkabayev suffered an early night against the American.
With simultaneous finals taking place, Torrez Jr. and Davis had hoped to become the first American male boxer since Andre Ward in 2004 to bring gold back stateside.
For Davis, his appearance against Cruz was one he was expecting. After facing the Cuban amateur standout three previous times, all resulting in defeat, the 22-year-old attempted to have the last laugh.
Davis stood mostly on the outside in the opening round, he pushed out a range-finding jab and kept Cruz at bay. While he did his best to outbox the slick Cuban, Cruz continually found his way on the inside and landed shots while bobbing and weaving his way out of incoming trouble. That, in turn, banked the round.
In an effort to change the momentum, Davis ditched his box first approach in the opening round and came out aggressive in the second. He pushed Cruz back and landed the harder and clean blows. As Davis banked the second on the judge’s scorecards, gold was up for grabs in the third. Just as Cruz had done in three previous meetings, the Cuban native pushed the pace in the third, forced Davis to miss and immediately made him pay.
As the name of Cruz was ultimately announced following three rounds of action, Davis simply smiled, dropped to one knee and appeared thankful for the opportunity.
Analogously, Torrez Jr. had his own trouble in his gold medal game.
Facing a five-inch reach disadvantage, Torrez Jr. refused to allow Jalolov to use it, at least initially. The American ducked low during several of their exchanges which had his man hitting nothing but air. In return, Torrez Jr. landed plenty of eye-catching shots. He was given the opening round and was only a period away from claiming gold.
A much more aggressive Jalolov found his rhythm in the second though. The head of Torrez Jr. was repeatedly snapped back as he was unable to avoid the persistent jab of his man.
After banking the second and tied at one round apiece, Jalolov dominated the third and final round. He used the combination of a consistent jab, attacks to the midsection and right hands over the top. And with that, much like his fellow Olympian, Torrez Jr. was also forced to settle for silver.
Despite their slight shortcomings, the Americans 2021 Olympic experience was a success when compared to their recent history. With four medals in total, the Americans posted the highest medal count in two decades.