Boxer Keyshawn Davis was hoping to end the 17-year gold medal drought for the American men, but he settled for silver after a split-decision loss to Cuba’s Andy Cruz in the lightweight final Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics.
The first lightweight to represent Team USA in the Olympic gold medal match since Oscar De La Hoya won gold in 1992, Davis simply ran into a rival he can’t beat.
Sunday marked the fourth — and final — meeting between Davis and Cruz in the amateurs, and each time, Cruz had his hand raised. Cruz, 25, was simply too sharp, too active and too good for Davis, but the fight was far closer than their last meeting, a September 2019 bout in the AIBA World Championships in Russia.
One judge scored the fight for Davis, 29-28, overruled by dual tallies of 29-28 for Cruz.
Cruz danced his way to the ring and then won the first round on four of five scorecards with crisp, clean punching and superior activity. Davis, of Norfolk, Virginia, stormed back to win the second, punctuated by a powerful right hand, setting the table for a third round that would decide the victor.
Cruz wouldn’t be denied, outhustling Davis and outmaneuvering the American with beautiful footwork to score his 27th consecutive victory in the amateurs.
It’s unclear where Cruz goes from here. Cuba doesn’t allow its fighters to turn pro, and those who wish to do so are forced to defect. Former pro champions Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux both defected from Cuba and settled in Miami.
For Davis, the path is far more clear: a return to the pros, where he is 3-0 (with two knockouts) and seemingly on the fast track to a world-title opportunity.
The 22-year-old southpaw made his pro debut in February and fought again in April and May. His quick rise was put on hold when he surprisingly received the call to return to the Olympic Training Center after the cancellation of the qualifiers in Buenos Aires in May due to COVID.
Davis was prepared to head to Japan last summer before the pandemic delayed the Olympics one year. Rather than wait, Davis and two others — Duke Ragan and Troy Isley — decided to turn pro. All three represented Team USA in the Olympics, the first time pro boxers have represented the nation in the Games.
Isley failed to medal, but Ragan also took home silver.
Keyshawn Davis denied Olympic boxing gold in split-decision loss to Cuba’s Andy Cruz
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