On Friday August 22, 2008 the last U.S. boxer stepped into the ring for his Semifinal bout hoping to advance to the Final round to compete for Olympic gold but left the ring having to settle for a Bronze Medal.
“It’s just a blessing for me being here to experience the Olympics and then come out with a medal regardless of what happened tonight,” said heavyweight Deontay Wilder. “It was a good fight but he came out the better man tonight.”
A lot of the media has focused on the Beijing Olympics being the worst showing for the U.S. boxing team in the history of the modern Olympics, but that should not overshadow all that Wilder has accomplished in his short amateur career.
The native of Tuscaloosa , Alabama only began boxing just under three years ago; he not only made it to the Olympics but as the most inexperienced member of the U.S. team he was the only member to make it to the medal round.
Wilder’s Semifinal bout could have been billed as “Inexperience vs. Experience,” as he faced off against Italy ’s Clemente Russo the winner of the 2007 World Championships in Chicago. Although the U.S. heavyweight stood eight inches above the Italian he often gave up the height advantage allowing Russo to work on the inside and counter punch well.
Both fighters came out in the first round tentative as they circled in the center of the ring. Russo lowered his arms in an effort to draw in the taller Wilder who obliged by dipping his head to the right when he came into jab.
The Italian was the first to score by throwing a lead right that hit the shoulder of Wilder and grazed the back of his head which should not have registered a point. Both fighters exchange shots at the end of the round none of which landed clean ending the round 1-0 for Russo.
Wilder started round two well throwing his first few jabs while fighting tall. Wilder throws a good one-two combination to which Russo answers with a counter and one-two combination of his own, none of which score. Russo establishes good side to side movement in the round which went scoreless.
Wilder got into a fray with Russo in the third who threw several punches while moving around Wilder which scores. As the Alabama native delivered his punches Russo would lunge in preventing him from landing clean shots; Wilder threw a lead right which the Italian landed a counter to the body which scored. Wilder continued to give up his height which Russo took advantage of scoring with a jab ending the round 4-0 in his favor.
The fourth round started with a good jab from Wilder that landed but does not register a point which is followed up by a strange hold in which Wilder lifted Russo in the air. The inexperience of Wilder shows as he continues his bad habit of leaning forward with his head down to the right as he jabs.
A lot of holding and hitting goes scoreless. Russo lands a nice combination that scores two points, Wilder who is throwing while out of position gets hit with another counter from Russo that scores. Wilder scores with a point landing a one-two combination at the last part of the round ending the bout 7-1.
Although disappointed that he didn’t make it to the finals Wilder said, “I had fun, I’m happy. Through the years you will see greatness of me, that’s a guarantee. You’re looking at a heavyweight champion of the world one day.”