Diaz, Hunter, Breazeale fall on rough day for American boxers
On a rough day for the U.S., bantamweight Joseph Diaz fell to Lazaro Alvarez
Michael Hunter struggled in his Olympic debut against Russian Artur Beterbiev
Dominic Breazeale was blown out vs. the more experienced Magomed Omarov
LONDON -- Three thoughts from a rough day for USA Boxing on Wednesday:
1. Joseph Diaz falls. Diaz, a bantamweight, knew he was in for a tough fight when he saw top-seeded Cuban Lazaro Alvarez in his draw. It was Alvarez who knocked Diaz out of the 2012 World Championships. Diaz had an excellent game plan: At the world's, Diaz tried to counterpunch the faster Cuban. Here, Diaz turned into a pressure fighter. Keeping a high guard, Diaz looked to score with power shots. But it wasn't enough to outpoint the uber-active Alvarez, who took the second-round matchup, 21-14.
"I was trying to put constant pressure on him and tried to make him tired," Diaz said. "It worked, he got tired. Unfortunately I didn't get the W."
The U.S. coaches were frustrated with the scoring after the fight, believing the judges didn't give Diaz -- admittedly the less active fighter -- more credit for landing the cleaner shots.
"I thought the scoring should have been closer," he said. "I felt like I was blocking a lot of shots. My head was moving but my guard was up at all times. The judges didn't see that unfortunately. But hands down, Lazar is a really great fighter. He's a really good boxer and a great puncher. It just wasn't my day."
Diaz says he will turn professional, campaigning as a bantamweight. Industry sources say Diaz is headed for Golden Boy Promotions.
2. Russia 1, USA 0. Heavyweight Michael Hunter struggled in his Olympic debut against Russian Artur Beterbiev. Hunter looked nimble in the first round, sticking and moving against the burly Russian, winning the round 4-3. But in rounds two and three Hunter looked sluggish, allowing Beterbiev to take the fight on the inside and make it a wrestling match. Judges scored the second round even and gave the third to Beterbiev, 3-2, evening the fight at 10-10. Under (confusing) AIBA rules, a tiebreaker is decided by the total scores of the judges, minus the highest and lowest scores. That gave Beterbiev the win.
Afterwards, Hunter placed some of the blame on a head cold, which he said caused his legs to tire a little faster than usual.
"He was the better man," Hunter said. "My legs got fatigued early and I wasn't able to stay on the outside like I wanted to. My foot placement wasn't there. I wasn't able to turn like I wanted to. That's the name of the sport."
Hunter says his biggest disappointment is not being able to live up to the promise he made to his late father, former fringe heavyweight contender Mike "The Bounty" Hunter, before he passed away in 2006.
"I failed that mission," Hunter said. "But I just have to keep it moving."
3. Russia 2, USA 0. Super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale was the longest of longshots coming in, with limited amateur experience -- he picked up boxing in 2008 after finishing a career playing quarterback at Northern Colorado -- and rudimentary skills. Against Magomed Omarov, Breazeale's inexperience was exposed. He was blown out of the first round 5-0 and lost the fight 19-8.
"I was in with an experienced guy," Breazeale said. "It definitely showed tonight. I was trying to stay away from his lead hand; he has a great right hook, and I couldn't do it. In the middle of the bout you can't second guess yourself, and I was doing a lot of that."