By Jake Donovan
Now the U.S. men's team is done.
There will be no protest over Tuesday's verdict, which saw Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy advance to the semifinals with a 16-11 win over Errol Spence.
The loss serves as a mark of infamy for the United States, fielding the first-ever men's team to not secure a single medal in Olympic boxing competition.
Nervous energy was evident as action began, as Spence couldn't establish a rhythm. Zmkovoy knew were to be during every exchange, when to punch, when to cover up and when to tie up.
Falling behind after one, Spence was urged by his corner to score big without providing a still target. The Dallas native tried his best to oblige, holding his own for the first half of the round. It wasn't enough, as Spence was caught with one shot too many while thinking too long before letting his hands go.
A late rally was needed if the American was to pull out a miracle. That moment never came, nor was there a sense of urgency evident in the ring as Zamkovoy just proved too be too much on this particular evening, and perhaps in general.
Spence considered it his obligation to carry the United States on his back as the last American male boxer standing. The 22-year old was given t
he mother of all second chances when the AIBA overturned his horrifically officiated bout with Krishan Vikas of India late last week. The original verdict meant the U.S. men's team denied a single boxing medal for the first time in its history in the Olympics, but a review of the tape resulted in a successful appeal.
However, it merely proved to prolong the inevitable. The United States will now have to turn to the female side of the competition in order to present any semblance of success in the 2012 London Games.
Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shield have denied the overall 12-fighter team from a total shutout in the medal rounds, with both set to fight on Wednesday in separate semifinal matches.
Zamkovoy is now the fourth member of Team Russia to storm into the semifinals. Two men and two women are now in the medal round, with a chance to place two more men after Wednesday's quarterfinal action in the light flyweight and light welterweight divisions.
Alexis Vastine of France returned to the 2012 Olympics with vengeance on his mind. A superb run in the 2012 Beijing Games was cut short when he forced to settle for the bronze after dropping a questionable verdict to eventual gold medalist Felix Diaz.
The reaction at the end of Tuesday's contest was a clear indication that he was none too pleased with this year's results, losing on an 18-18 countback to Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine.
The fight was fought on even terms for much of the contest, right down to both fighters receiving separate warnings for fussy fouls in round two. Vastine did his job in the final round, boxing when he had to and getting the hell out of harm's way the moment he sensed his opponent was beginning to surge.
Scoring in the end suggested an even bout the entire way through, but that Shelestyuk was determined to have landed more punches in the eyes of the five-person judging panel.
Vastine was in disbelief once the countback verdict was announced, first draping himself over the top rope before falling to his back in dead center ring.
His in-ring protest aside, Shelestyuk marches on for a Ukraine boxing team that threatens to claim more boxing medals than any other nation in the 2012 London Games.
Awaiting Shelestyuk in Friday's semifinals will be the house favorite, who marched into the medal round in similar fashion as his future opponent.
Freddie Evans of Great Britain milked every last drop of an early lead all the way to the finish line, allowing Custio Clayton of Canada to fight all the way to a 14-14 before being declared winner on countback.
Clayton dug deep from an early deficit to win big in rounds two and three. Under traditional scoring, it would have been enough to give Canada its first Olympic boxing medal since 1996. With the current system still in place, Evans' busier overall action allowed him to dodge a major bullet despite falling apart down the stretch.
Evans can't afford a similar strategy in the semifinals. Awaiting the Brit in the medal round is resilient Kazakh welterweight Serik Sapiyev, who survived a near-disastrous second round to still dominate Gabriel Maestre of Venezuela.
Sapiyev scored big in all three rounds, but was forced to overcome a second-round flurry from Maestre that left him dazed and on the business end of a standing-eight count. Proving his mettle, Sapiyev regained control mere seconds later, thus ending any hopes of Maestre pulling off a major upset.
The welterweight semifinals take place on Friday, August 10. The winners advance to the Gold medal round on Sunday, August 12; the losers will split the bronze.
Welterweight Quarterfinals (Tuesday, August 7):
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) def. Alexis Vastine (France), 18-18 (countback)
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Custio Clayton (Canada), 14-14 (countback)
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Errol Spence (United States), 16-11
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela), 20-9
Welterweight Semifinals (Medal round - Friday, August 10):
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) vs. Freddie Evans (Great Britain)
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) vs. Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan)
Round of 16 Results (Friday, August 3):
Taras Shelestyuk (Ukraine) def. Vasiliji Belous (Moldova), 15-7
Alexis Vastine (France) def. Tuvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia), 16-12
Custio Clayton (Canada) def. Cameron Hammond (Australia), 14-12
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (Lithuania), 11-7
Vikas Krishan (India) def. Errol Spence, 13-11
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Adam Nolan (Ireland), 18-9
Serik Sapiyev (Kazakhstan) def. Yasuhiro Suzuki (Japan) , 25-11
Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela) def. Siphiwe Lusizi (South Africa), 18-13
Welterweights - Round of 32 Results (Sunday, July 29):
Vasiliji Belous (Moldova) def. Selemeni Kidunda (Tansinia), 20-7
Tuvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia) def. Yannick Mitoumba (Gabon), 17-4
Alexis Vastine (France) def. Patrick Wojcicki (Germany), 16-12
Custio Clayton (Canada) def. Oscar Molina (Mexico), 12-8
Cameron Hammond (Australia) def. Moustopha Abdoulaye Hima (Niger), 13-6
Freddie Evans (Great Britain) def. Ilyas Abbadi (Algeria), 18-10
Errol Spence (USA) def. Myke Carvalho (Brazil), 16-8
Adam Nolan (Ireland) def. Carlos Sanchez (Ecuador), 14-8
Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) def. Qiong Maimaitituersun (China), 16-11
Siphiwe Lusizi (South Africa) def. Abdulkareem Ahmed (Iraq), 17-13
Gabriel Maestre (Venezuela) def. Amin Ghasemi (Iran), 13-8
Yasuhiro Suzuki (Japan) def. Mehdi Khalsi (Morocco), 14-13
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: