by Cliff Rold
21-year old Light Heavyweight Marcus Browne of Staten Island, New York, took a one-point lead into the final round but couldn’t hold off 20-year old Damian Hooper of Australia. Hooper, rated #2 in the world, posted a powerful rally and moves on the round of 16 at the 2012 Olympic Games with a 13-11 win. Browne’s defeat marks the first loss for a U.S. team who stood at 4-0 before Monday’s contest.
Browne started with a sizzling left hand, just missing the mark, and then began to work the perimeter of the ring. The southpaw landed a nice lead right and straight left in an exchange but quickly went back to range. Hooper snuck in a right and the action slowed, each surveying the other. Hooper blocked a left and then two more lead left attempts fell short. Browne landed a jab but the battle of feints was on. Hooper appeared to land a clumsy right in the closing seconds. Browne carried the frame at 3-2.
Both men stayed struggling to land in the first half of round two, Browne moving and perhaps waiting too long. Hooper landed a right to counter a Brown attack and pressed, Browne going close to the ropes. Hooper didn’t open up and Browne was able to circle away. Hooper landed a right and Browne missed a long left off the jab. In the final thirty seconds, Browne landed a smothered right hook and slipped a wild Hooper right, both men ending in a tangle on the floor. The round was scored 3-3.
Hooper came right out with a lead right and quickly the fight came to life in the final round. The crowd roared approval and both men landed in a hard to score exchange. Browne landed a perfect counter left and then another before the two-minute mark. Hopper blasted two rights and scored a standing eight in the middle of the round, Browne rocked. Browne missed landing flush on a right and left and they both landed lefts in a harsh exchange. The two started getting into some violent grappling, Browne shoved to the floor. Browne was pushed into the ropes with a right and outlanded Browne with a combination in the waning seconds.
Hooper raised his hands. He knew what he’d done and the judges rewarded his effort, the round scored 8-5 for Hooper to erase Browne’s lead and erase the American from the London Games.
Browne appeared to choke back tears as he hugged his conqueror and ducked out of the ring. Interviewed after the bout, Browne accepted responsibility for his loss. “I didn’t listen to my corner in the last round and I paid for it. They told me to box and take it to him…no excuses. He was the better man tonight.”
Browne was sportsmanlike in looking ahead to supporting the rest of Team USA through the remainder of the Games. “I’m still here for them, supporting them. I’m here for them 100%.”
Browne gave 100% on Monday and it wasn’t quite enough but he did his country proud.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]