The US Olympic boxing team is enjoying its best results in two decades, but you wouldn't have a clue watching NBC's network coverage from Tokyo 2020.
American amateur boxers are guaranteed four medals including at least one silver medal in competition at the Tokyo 2020 Games, courtesy of three men and one woman putting on winning performances.
As of Monday night, the quarterfinals had concluded. At this point when boxers make the semifinals, they are guaranteed bronze as no consolation fight is held between the two defeated fighters.
Can you name all four of our medalists? Do you have their upcoming fights noted on your viewing calendar for the coming week? If even one in ten people reading this say yes, half are fibbing.
Before the predictable rant gets underway, let’s provide the information you need to follow the four American medalists. You can view all of the boxing events online in real time on NBCOlympics.com Scroll down to see a program grid in alphabetical order. In between the live events listed daily, you can view competition highlights at any time. Also, daily at 3 pm ET/12 noon PT boxing highlights are among several other events on the USA Network show.
Here are the four Americans you’ll want to follow in the coming days.
Early Wednesday AM on the East Coast, welterweight Oshae Jones of Toledo, Ohio fights in the semifinal round at approximately 1:45 am ET/10:45 pm PT against Hong Gu of China. Gu, age 32, is the top-ranked amateur female welterweight. Jones says she’s practicing her gold-medal speech every day. The 23-year-old Jones has far more experience, and she’ll need to dig down for the win. If she gets to the final, it’s set early Saturday, August 7 at 2:15 am ET/11:15 pm PT Friday.
Following Jones on the card at approximately 2:35 am ET/11:35 pm PT, super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr. faces Kamshybek Kunkabayev of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. A win puts him in line for a gold medal; a loss gives him bronze, the best heavyweight showing since Deontay Wilder’s bronze in 2008.
Torrez Jr., age 22 from Tulare, California, defeated Dainier Peró for the first American win over a Cuban since Andre Dirrell did it inn 2004. Torrez Jr. is an experienced and accomplished amateur although slightly small at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. He could become the first super heavyweight gold medalist from the US since Tyrell Biggs in 1984; Ray Mercer won the heavyweight division gold in 1988.
Two young professionals who both signed with Top Rank when the Games were delayed a year ended up being tapped for the team when qualifying tournaments selecting the team were also cancelled.
Featherweight Duke Ragan of Cincinnati will fight for gold Thursday at 2:35 am ET/11:35 PT Wednesday in the final after taking out Samuel Takyi of Ghana by split decision Monday. Ragan fought a bigger man in the 20-year-old Takyi but Ragan’s four pro fights this past year sharpened up his defense behind his handspeed and smart punch selection. Ragan fights Albert Batyrgaziev of the ROC (AKA Russia).
Lightweight Keyshawn Davis clinched a spot in the medal rounds with his impressive quarterfinal win over Gabil Mamedov of ROC (AKA Russia). It read as a split decision on the cards due to sketchy judging in the second round. Davis had to bring the heat and scored a knockdown from a hard left hook to drop Mamedov 1:15 into the round. Give Mamedov credit for being tough enough to stand up to Davis’s body shots to end the fight on his feet.
Davis faces Hovvhannes Backhov of Armenia in the semifinal on Friday, August 6 at 1:32 am ET/10:32 pm PT Friday for a shot at the gold.
Four Americans with the potential for gold, and nothing worse than one silver and three bronze medals.
It’s been many years since Americans dominated the Olympic boxing ring. But they don’t dominate the professional ranks either with so much international talent. Still, the showing in Tokyo is Team USA’s best in two decades, and this outcome is worth noting and celebrating.
So why isn’t NBC giving American boxing any exposure? In a Morning Consult survey published by Axios prior to the Olympic Games, boxing ranked ninth out of 50 sports as the ones Americans most wanted to watch. Instead, they get badminton, table tennis, and oh so much beach volleyball.
NBC is airing professional boxing via its Ring City USA platform on the USA Network, which is carrying hours of Olympic coverage daily. Showing a few highlights in the middle of the day mixed up with everything else is an insult. Besides, it’s in the network’s interest to give boxing some exposure.
The last time I checked, neither USA, NBC, or Telemundo were airing professional badminton or table tennis between Olympic Games.
To borrow a few words from the President (the REAL American President, not you Woodsy), come on, man.
Boxing heads, we'll have to do the work, dig up the streams, set our alarm clocks, and cheer on our champions. You work at least that hard to save a few bucks on a PPV. Our American Olympic boxers deserve no less.