The CNBC video logger is the only one around who's seen all the fights.
When the Games began, he needed a guide to ID all the boxers' faces in the B roll, so I gave him a Ring magazine spread on team USA. I went down the other day and the pages were taped to the wall.
This was the worst Olympics in history for American amateur boxing. The big guys exited early, all first-round losses.
Super heavy Breazeale got spanked by a big Russian, and heavyweight Hunter faded and lost on a tiebreak. Marcus Browne, of Atlas Cops and Kids, lost the battle of wills with a thuggish Australian.
Middleweight Terrel Gausha stopped an Armenian in his first match and got robbed in the round of sixteen.
Welterweight Errol Spence was still alive when I took this picture. That night he would get outworked by a Russian with a good amateur pedigree. He was the only American to make it to the quarters.
Light welterweight Jamel Herring was out of his depth.
Jose Ramirez was a slow starter. He squeaked by a Frenchman, then lost to an Uzbek. Rau'shee Warren choked. Only bantamweight Joseph Diaz left it all in the ring. Jo Jo had bad luck and drew a Cuban for his second fight, a slick lefty who liked to move. He could have had bronze or silver with a different draw.
It would suck to be an American boxing fan if it weren't for the ladies. Flyweight Marlen Esparza (L) went out fighting, snagging bronze, and middleweight Claressa Shields (R) was splendid winning USA Boxing's only gold. Just seventeen, she's the youngest Olymic champion in boxing history since sixteen-year-old featherweight Jackie Fields won gold in 1924 Paris.
16-yr-old Ringside Champ Alban Kaz with trainer Aureliano Sosa
Here's hoping 2016 will be better, with more financial support, more Olympic weights for the women, consistent coaching, and scandal-free leadership. The US grows brave, classy boxers. We need to take better care of them.
Junior Olympic champion Chris Colbert (L) and bronze medalist Bruce Harrington Jr (R)
Photo by Sue Jaye Johnson of Claressa Shields with women's boxing pioneer Barbara Buttrick, world champ from the 1940's and 50's.
Don’t watch 17-year old Claressa Shields go for gold alone! Watch with fans around the world. Team USA middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan goes up against Russia today at 12:15 in the women’s boxing finals. WNYC is hosting a Live Chat Watch Party and I'll be a special guest along with Malissa Smith of girlboxing and Tiara Brown, teammate and friend of Claressa Shields and winner of the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Boxing Championship in China at 125 lbs (a non-Olympic weight class).
Before the Olympics started, I was wondering if there would be scandal. Two things in particular worried me: the BBC report that claimed a 7-million dollar payment was made by an Azeri national to the World Series of Boxing, allegedly in return for two guaranteed gold medals for Azerbaijan in London.
AIBA sent out a threatening letter to journalists telling them not to mention this report, but they didn't send a copy to me.
Keep an eye on the fighters from Azerbaijan, I thought.
I also noted that AIBA, who are dropping the A from their name so they can ooze into professional boxing, actually signed several London Olympians to pro contracts before the Games began. Hmm, I thought, isn't that a conflict of interest? The organization that sanctions and judges the Olympic bouts also has money riding on several of its participants?
Keep an eye on the APB prospects, I thought.
Yesterday there were two hideous decisions in the men's heavyweight quarterfinals. The first robbed a game Belarusian, awarding victory instead to Teymur Mammadov from Azerbaijan. While I'm happy that I'll get to keep saying the name "Mammadov" a little longer, the decision was incomprehensible. Even worse was the fight that followed, in which a Clemente Russo of Italy hugged and held all the way against a clearly enraged Cuban. Clemente got no warnings from the ref, who perhaps thought he was reffing a judo match. Guess who AIBA signed to a pro contract right before the Games?
The joke is on them, though. Nobody in their right mind would spend a dollar to see Clemente Russo fight.
Belarus and Cuba filed protests; both were declined.
Teddy Atlas put it this way: "Somebody get me a bucket because I think I'm going to vomit."
If it weren't for the girls, I'd be done. They put on a great show this morning, crowned by Katie Taylor's win over the superb Natasha Jonas and Claressa Shield's triumphant comeback over the enormous Anna Laurell of Sweden. Perhaps because there's no money in women's boxing, there's no reason to cheat.