Duke Ragan will go for Gold.
The first U.S. pro boxer (4-0, 1KO) to ever win a fight in the Olympics continues to rewrite the history books in Tokyo. Cincinnati's Ragan advances to the Gold medal round in the men's featherweight division after outpointing Ghana's Samuel Takyi via split decision.
Tayki won 29-28 on one card, overruled by scores of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Ragan in their featherweight semifinal bout Tuesday at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Both boxers played to their strengths in the opening round. Takyi—who is five inches taller and with the much longer reach—stuck out his long jab while looking to measure up his right hand. Ragan's superior infighting disallowed the Ghanaian boxer from landing much of consequence while the Cincinnati was able to connect with a counter left hook. Takyi offered a flurry at the end of the round, perhaps the difference in taking the round on three of the five scorecards.
Billy Walsh, head coach of the U.S. boxing team informed Ragan that round one was gone and that he needed to go out and win the rest of the fight. Ragan heeded the advice, increasing his punch output and causing Takyi to clinch on the inside after repeatedly missing with left hooks and wide right hands.
Four of the five judges had Ragan winning round two, with the fight on the table for both boxers heading into the final three minutes.
Takyi emptied his arsenal, landing right hands at times and wildly missing the mark on other occasions. Ragan remained poised, connecting with his overrand right and touching Takyi with his jab. Takyi overshot a right hand and was caught by a left hook down the stretch.
Ragan's surge was enough to take the fight on four of the five scorecards—and good enough to pursue Gold.
The U.S. team is now 15-6 overall and assured four medals. Ragan picks up his fourth win overall in Tokyo, the best by any American boxer since Andre Ward's road to Gold in 2004 Athens.
Ragan is now one win away from ending the U.S. men's team's 17-year Gold medal drought. He will next face Albert Batyrgaziev (ROC), who outlasted three-time Olympic medalist Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) in a split decision win to advance.
Their bout will take place Thursday, August 5.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox