Errol Spence: Reprieve Doesn't Hide U.S. Boxing's Continual Decline
Errol Spence enters the quarterfinals of the 69kg division through the back door. AIBA, amateur boxing's governing body, overturned the result of his bout with Krishan Vikas of India due to multiple infractions that were not called in the bout.
Spence told the AP (via Huffington Post):
"I am obviously thrilled that the competition jury overturned my decision and I can continue chasing the gold medal I came here to win," Spence said in an email. "I am going to make the most of this second chance that I've been given. I can't wait to get back in that ring on Tuesday."
Regardless of the reprieve granted to Spence, the Olympics continues to highlight the downfall of U.S. boxing.
The last U.S. boxer to capture a gold medal was Andre Ward in Athens. Four years later in Beijing, the Americans could only muster a single bronze medal.
The U.S. has both the talent and the coaching to perform better on the amateur level. One of the best trainers in the world, Freddie Roach, spent time training the athletes before the Games. It obviously made little impact.
Why have the mighty fallen?
Has mixed martial arts taken some of the talent away from the program? That seems unlikely. The sport has had a meteoric rise over the past seven-plus years, but most of MMA's top talent comes from the collegiate ranks in America.
Is it due to the poor scoring system of the Olympics? Unquestionably, the system needs an overhaul, but the boxers know what the rules are going to be when they enter the ring. The system has been in place since the 1992 Barcelona Games. It cannot be used as an excuse for the constant poor showings.
There is no clear answer as to why the American program has fallen on hard times, but they must address the issue before Rio in 2016.
Performance on the amateur level has a ripple effect that extends to the professional game.
The performance of U.S. boxing ultimately affects the sport of professional boxing long-term. The greats all come up through the program. Does our recent showing at the Olympics show that there is no great American boxer? I hope not, but I would not be surprised.
How are the U.S. boxing coaches going to get new talent in with the poor showings on the international stage? The young kids of today do not have many heroes to emulate, to inspire or to aspire to be.
The next four years will be crucial. U.S. boxing has to identify young talent and foster their development so that they can contend for medals in Rio. It is important they have a good showing.
The terrible performance at the London Games has to be worrisome for USA Boxing officials.
Who will be the next Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Who is going to make that next step from fantastic amateur to world champion?
Something has to be done with U.S. boxing. The future of the sport may depend on it.
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