Jose Ramirez - High Expectations Grow at The Olympics
LONDON — Jose Ramirez is seen as the man who can finally deliver the United States Olympic lightweight gold 20 years after the great Oscar de la Hoya did in Barcelona and on Sunday he did little to discourage that notion.
The 19-year-old overcame early nerves to edge his tough as teak French taxi-driving opponent Rachid Azzedine, 10 years the American's senior, 21-20.
Ramirez's win took the Americans to an impressive 3-0 in their bouts so far and shortly afterwards Errol Spence made it four from four with victory over Brazilian Myke Ribeiro de Carvalho in their welterweight clash.
With those four safely through it has given the young team belief that they can end the run which has seen the United States win just one gold medal in boxing since the 1996 Atlanta Games - light heavyweight Andre Ward in 2004.
Ramirez, though, was the one many had come to see and he didn't disappoint settling down to land some slick combinations on the Frenchman, who had only gained a place here through a wild card after breaking his jaw last year.
Ramirez, who sported striking luminous light green shoes, said that it had been a nervewracking experience fighting his first ever Olympic bout.
"I'd been absolutely fine pre the bout, I was really excited and I was even talking on Skype to my family as I was getting ready," he said.
"However, I went in a little tense once I entered the arena and realised the atmosphere was totally different from anything I had encountered before.
"I settled pretty quickly and then it kind of flowed as I was motivated by all the people I knew were watching me."
Ramirez, who next fights an Uzbek fighter, said he and his team-mates were well aware of the desire back home for the star-spangled banner to ring out again at the boxing.
"We're a young team but we're hungry," he said.
Azzedine, whose team-mate the 2008 lightweight bronze medalist Alexis Vastine had won earlier in the day, admitted he had got it all wrong despite the closeness of the result.
"I made the mistake of going to war with him and I wasn't able to win it," he said.
Two other nations maintained their perfect records, hosts Great Britain who have seen all three of their fighters progress - Freddie Evans and Josh Taylor progressing on Sunday and the Irish too have the same record after policeman Adam Nolan breezed through.
Taylor's win over Brazilian Robson Conceicao left a sour taste in his defeated rival's mouth, even more bitter as they had clashed violently in what was meant to be a gentle pre-Olympic sparring session last week.
"You could say it got pretty tasty!" grinned the 21-year-old Scot about the sparring incident.
Conceicao, though, was steaming over the judges decision.
"It is unfair. They're (the judges) ruining my job," said Conceicao.
"But this happened because he is from here."