American Duke Ragan Settled For Silver Medal In Tokyo Thursday
A great performance by U.S. Lightweight Duke Ragan throughout his boxing tournament came up just short in the Gold Medal fight Thursday afternoon at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. This, as Ragan was beaten on a 3-2 split decision by Russian Albert Batyrgaziev at the Kokugikan Arena.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 5, 2021
It was a fight that made Olympic history, as it was the first time the two fighters with professional records had ever fought for a Gold Medal in Olympic boxing. Both Ragan and Batyrgaziev were permitted to turn pro, but still come back as amateurs for the year-delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Ragan had won four professional fights, while Batyrgaziev has scored three knockouts in all of his pro wins.
In the opening round, the Russian Batyrgaziev scored repeated right jabs with lefts behind them out of the southpaw stance. While Ragan did land a good right hand at the halfway point, Batyrgaziev scored right jab-straight left “1-2’s” in succession in the final minute that backed Ragan to the neutral corner. That was his best combo weapon in the bout.
Four of the five judges gave Batyrgaziev the opening frame 10-9.
In round two, the Cincinnati native was a little more aggressive and landed several right hands and left hooks in the first minute and half of the round. One right by Ragan caused the Russian to take two steps back to the ropes, but the American did not follow him and attempt to pile on any more punches.
Two different times Batyrgaziev was warned for wrestling/holding Ragan, but no points were deducted. And, he did land a couple more straight lefts late in the round. Again, the Russian took 4 of the 5 judges cards for round two making it very difficult for Ragan to win a decision at that point.
After being urged by his corner that he was behind, Ragan scored quickly with rights to the body and a solid right uppercut in the first :30 of the final stanza. However, Batyrgaziev was still able to land his southpaw rights and was surprisingly, still aggressive as the fight drew to a close. Ragan appeared somewhat tired in the final minute with both hands at his sides most of the time and ate a couple of more punches from the Russian.
The American also scored a good left hook in the final :30, but there would be no dramatic knockdown, much less KO. Batyrgaziev took the Gold by a final margin of 3-2 on the cards.
Still, Ragan became the first American male to win a medal at the 2020 Olympics and the first to win a Silver, since Ricardo “Rocky” Juarez won his, also at Featherweight, at the 2000 Sydney Games.
The Americans Gold medal drought still extends, for now, back to 2004 and Light Heavyweight Andre Ward having been the last to get one.
However, there are still opportunities for it to happen this weekend in Japan, including Lightweight Keyshawn Davis. The Norfolk, Virginian Davis will fight Friday afternoon in his semifinal bout against Armenian Hovhannes Bachkov. Davis, who like Ragan turned pro earlier this year and has already won three fights, was one of the favorites to win Gold at Lightweight before the Olympics began.
If he is victorious Friday, Davis will go for Gold Sunday afternoon in Tokyo. The USA has not had a Lightweight Gold medal, since Oscar De La Hoya’s victory in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The other American with a chance to win Gold is Super Heavyweight Richard Torrez, who will fight Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan for the Gold medal Sunday afternoon in the concluding bout of the entire boxing tournament.
The Californian Torrez pulled an upset with a third-round TKO over Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev in the semifinals on Wednesday. That assures Torrez of at least a Silver medal at Super Heavyweight, which is the first for the United States since Riddick Bowe in 1988. The last American Gold in that division is from Tyrell Biggs in the 1984 L.A. Games.