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Olympic Boxing: U.S. Boxing Team Down to Last Two Fighters

Saturday August 16, 2008 was a big day for the U.S. as Michael Phelps made history by winning his unprecedented eighth Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympics, but for the eight members of the U.S. boxing team, their story has not been as fruitful.

Middleweight Shawn Estrada and light flyweight Luis Yanez were unsuccessful in the second round of elimination bouts, leaving only welterweight Demetrius Andrade and heavyweight Deontay Wilder moving to the Quarterfinals.

The Beijing Olympics has been the worst showing in history for the U.S. since boxing became an Olympic sport in 1904. The previous worst showing the U.S. team had experienced was sending four fighters to the Quarterfinals in 2004 at the Athens Olympics.

Although he had a favorable draw, Estrada was not able to get past James DeGale of Great Britain to move to the Quarterfinal rounds. The British southpaw gave Estrada, who abandon his jab, a difficult time.

In the first frame, DeGale was the first to land a clean one-two combination that did not register a point. Estrada moved forward without utilizing his jab, lunging forward while trying to throw a straight right. Estrada was able to land with a right uppercut and right cross, but both punches do not register a point. The round ends 0-0.

In the second round, Estrada, still coming forward without utilizing his jab, circled right against the southpaw instead of to his left. He seemed unsure of how to deal with the southpaw style, only throwing rights and still, completely abandoning his jab.

DeGale scores with a straight left and a right hook also scores. Both fighters exchange punches which scored, ending the round at 3-1 for DeGale.

More of the same in round three with Estrada still not utilizing a jab and lunging forward to engage DeGale. Estrada lands a left hook that scores, while a jab registers a point for DeGale.

The British fighter lets his hands go, scoring again; both fighters are scoring during a few exchanges. Round three ends still in favor of DeGale 6-3.

Estrada continuing to lunge in and clinch, refusing to box and work his way in with the jab. DeGale lands and ties up Estrada. before landing several combinations that score. Estrada lands three clean shots that go scoreless, ending the bout 11-5 for DeGale.

Similar to some of the other U.S. fighters’ bouts, the scoring was not handled well, but unlike team mate Raynell Williams, Estrada did not do enough to win the fight.

While he had four to five punches that did not register points, DeGale also had at least another two or three punches that did not register, which still gave him a commanding lead.

After the fight, Estrada commented that he tried to stay to the outside and was not able to follow his game plan, “I was smothering myself.” After saying happy birthday to his daughter Alyssa, he said that he was just happy to be at the Olympics and have the opportunity to represent his country and East Los Angeles.

In the light flyweight division, Luis Yanez did not execute the right fight plan in facing Mongolia’s Serdamba Purevdorj. Yanez entered the ring displaying confidence that bordered on arrogance, based on some of his gestures and facial expressions.

The U.S. fighter came out fast, jabbing in the center of the ring with his feet spread far apart in a style more suited to a power puncher than a slick boxer.

Yanez did not move and chose to stand in front of Purevdorj, taking shots when he should have been utilizing his hand speed and not standing still. Few shots that scored were exchanged between both southpaws until Purevdorj responds with a counter punch, taking the lead at the end of the round, 3-2.

In the corner, U.S. Head Coach Dan Campbell asked Yanez what is he waiting for and that he needs to let his hands go, saying, “If you don’t let your hands go, you won’t win!”

Yanez comes out in the second round moving forward, throwing a double jab but is too far outside to close the gap, throwing his punches short.

As Yanez paws in and feints, Purevdorj scores late in the round. Yanez returns to the center of the ring with his feet wide and posing. When he throws punches, Yanez is clearly faster than Purevdorj, who is able to wait on the outside and time Yanez as he comes in short. Only a single point is registered in the round, going to Purevdorj, who is now up 4-2.

Yanez finally comes out boxing well in the third but Purevdorj is now able to time him as he comes in and both fighters score. Yanez is now throwing combinations that land and takes the lead for the first time in the bout, 6-5.

A solid left from Yanez does not score; he backs straight up and gets hit with a straight left from Purevdorj. The U.S. southpaw returns to not throwing punches and standing in front of Purevdorj in the center of the ring, ending the round at a draw 6-6.

Coach Campbell tells Yanez that he needs to throw three punches at a time to get the point and that he won’t score throwing one at a time.

Yanez began the fourth round not taking the advice of his coach, throwing one or two jabs at a time, too far from the outside. Purevdorj connects and somewhat tackles Yanez to the ground. As Yanez pressures to try and get inside, Purevdorj is able to use his timing to negate the speed of the U.S. fighter.

With about a minute left in the round, Yanez finally throws combinations, but they go scoreless and he then reaches with a jab and gets tagged. He is able to get one point back, but is still down one with only fifteen seconds left and is unable to catch Purevdorj, losing by a final score of 8-7.

After the fight, Yanez complained about the scoring, feeling that he should have won the fight. As previously mentioned, the scoring was not as blatant as when Raynell Williams lost in his second bout and although the fight could have gone Yanez's way, it was clear that he did not throw enough punches and did not fight in the slick boxing style that got him to the Olympics.

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