Tokyo Olympics: Russian makes Olympic history as Ragan defeat means USA wait goes on

By Sports Desk August 05, 2021

Duke Ragan missed out on ending the USA's 17-year gold drought in men's boxing as Albert Batyrgaziev became the first professional to triumph in the Olympic ring.

The wait for a Games gold for the United States men continued on Thursday as a split decision went against Ragan in the featherweight final at the Kokugikan Arena, in a battle of two fighters who have recently left the amateur ranks behind.

Ragan edged it 29-28 on the scorecards of two judges, but it went against him by the same margin with two others, and a fifth, from Indonesia, scored it 30-27 in favour of Russian Olympic Committee fighter Batyrgaziev.

Their next meeting could be in a paid contest, given both are making their way in the professional game, and each man said the idea held plenty of appeal.

"That would be an additional motivation, to meet again as two professionals with my opponent in this final," Batyrgaziev said.

Ragan agreed, saying: "If that was to happen I really look forward to getting revenge and stuff like that, especially me and him, both being in the final of this Olympics.

"It would be a big headline and I'm pretty sure that everyone that tuned into the Olympics would want to see that again, especially on a bigger level."

Dagestan-born Batyrgaziev said of his gold: "This has been my dream since I started training for boxing when I was a child. This has made all the hard work and effort and the discipline I've shown since worth it. It has paid off.

"I am proud of my home. It deserves to be the home of an Olympic champion and I'll take the gold medal home to my people as I promised them."

Ragan regretted being unable to be the man to break the US gold drought, with no men's champion since Andre Ward's success at the Athens Olympics, but said silver still gave him some pleasure.

"Coming from the USA, I was the first professional boxer to compete in the Olympics. I take that and run with it. It was a blessing to be here," he said.

"I'm glad that I was a professional. A little bit more experience even though I didn't get the gold, but it's all good.

"I'm happy to be going home with the silver medal. It's not a happy ending for me but I'll take the silver medal over not getting on the podium at all."

 

FORMER 'SKIVVY' YAFAI REACHES GOLD FIGHT

Britain's Galal Yafai battled through to the men's flyweight final and explained how he has gone from a "skivvy" job to living out his dream.

Yafai earned a majority verdict over Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan, taking the verdict on three of the five judges' cards, and will face Carlo Paalam of the Philippines for gold on Saturday.

"It's the Olympic gold isn't it, man? Olympic gold is crazy. Just imagine being the Olympic champion," Yafai said.

"It's something I've dreamed about, but could never see happening. To be in an Olympic final, that's something I never thought I could do. Now I'm in it, it just goes to show that if you put in the hard work you reap the rewards."

The 28-year-old explained how he previously worked in a car factory in the English town of Solihull, near Birmingham, and reflected on how far he has come since those days.

"I was grafting, picking up boxes, dreaming of being at an Olympic Games," Yafai said. "I got to Rio [for the 2016 Olympics] a year later where it didn't work out for me. I've waited five years and it's paid off.

"I was doing the rubbish, picking up boxes, delivering parts. Just a skivvy job really. But now I'm on the verge of becoming Olympic champion.

"I hated working there, I'm not going to lie. I'd wanted to be a boxer for years, as I hate being told what to do. Now I'm my own boss and hopefully I can be the Olympic champion."

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