Boxing used to be one of the marquee sports of the Summer Olympics in terms of American interest and medal contenders. But like the state of the pro version of the sport in the United States, that is no longer the case.
The careers of some of the best U.S. boxers in history were launched at the Olympics. Cassius Clay was the light heavyweight gold medalist in 1960 in Rome. Joe Frazier won heavyweight gold in 1964 in Tokyo, and George Foreman did the same four years later in Mexico City. Ray Leonard was the best light welterweight in Montreal in 1976. Oscar De La Hoya took home gold in 1992 in Barcelona. And current USA world champions Floyd Mayweather (bronze, 1996 Atlanta) and Andre Ward (2004 Athens) also collected Olympic hardware.
But the recent Olympics have been mostly a wasteland for American boxing medalists — only one medal, a bronze, four years ago — and the forecast doesn't look too strong for the London Olympics, which start this week. In fact, on Bovada's Olympic boxing odds, no U.S. boxer is among the top three favorites to win.
At light flyweight (108 pounds), the U.S. has no representative in London. China's Zou Shiming, the 2008 gold medalist in Beijing and the 2011 world champion, is the 5-4 favorite. The finals at light fly are Aug. 11.
At flyweight (114 pounds), the U.S. may have its best medal chance in Rau'Shee Warren (10-1). This will be Warren's U.S. boxing-record third trip to the Olympics. He is a four-time national champion.
In 2004, a 17-year-old Warren lost in the first round to eventual gold medalist Zou Shiming from China. In 2008, Warren dropped a controversial decision in his first bout vs. South Korea's Lee Ok-sung. Warren is the fourth-favorite in this division, with Russian Misha Aloyan, the reigning world champion, the 9-4 favorite. The finals in this division are Aug. 12.
At bantamweight (123 pounds), American Joseph Diaz is a middle-of-the-pack shot at 18-1. Young Cuban Lazaro Alvarez is the current world champion and a 9-4 favorite. The finals will be held Aug. 11.
At lightweight (132 pounds), USA's Jose Ramirez is the longest shot to win at 50-1. The heavy favorite is the Ukraine's Vasyl Lomachenko. He won gold in Beijing (in a different class) and is considered the top pound-for-pound amateur in the world. He beat Ramirez in the 2011 World Championships. The finals are Aug. 12.
At light welterweight (141 pounds), American Jamel Herring is the 66-1 long shot to win gold. He is a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq. Brazil's Everton Lopes is the 12-5 favorite. The finals are Aug. 11.
At welterweight (152 pounds), Team USA's Errol Spence is at 28-1, but many believe he will be in the medal mix. Ukrainian Taras Shelestyuk, winner of the 2011 World Championships, is the 7-4 favorite. The finals are Aug. 12.
At middleweight (165 pounds), USA's Terrell Gausha is one of the long shots at 33-1. He won the Americas qualifying event as well as U.S. Nationals. Current World Champion Evhen Khytrov of the Ukraine is the 7-4 favorite. The finals are Aug. 11.
At light heavyweight (178 pounds), American Marcus Browne is at 33-1 after winning the Americas qualifying tournament. Cuban Julio Cesar la Cruz, the World Championships winner, is the 7-4 favorite.
At heavyweight (201 pounds), American Michael Hunter is by far the longest shot at 40-1. The son of former pro Mike "The Bounty" Hunter, Hunter has thrived since dropping down from super heavyweight in 2008. Heavyweight was where Team USA won its lone medal in 2008, the bronze by Deontay Wilder. Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk is the reigning world champion and the 5-2 favorite.
And finally at super heavyweight (201 pounds-plus), Team USA's Dominic Breazeale, the silver medalist at the Americas qualifying tournament, is the 40-1 long shot. Great Britain's Anthony Joshua is the 12-5 favorite to win gold in front of his countrymen. The finals are Aug. 12.
In addition, women's boxing makes its Olympic debut in London with three weight classes. The top American medal hope is likely 17-year-old middleweight Claressa Shields, the youngest USA Olympic boxer in 40 years. Shields is a two-time winner of the Junior Olympics and is 6-1 to bring home the first women's middleweight gold. The favorite at 9-4 is Great Britain's Savannah Marshall. The finals are Aug. 9.
Thumbnail photo via Facebook/Rau'SheeWarren
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