By Keith Idec
Shakur Stevenson easily took another step Tuesday toward ending the United States’ gold-medal drought in Olympic boxing.
The 19-year-old bantamweight from Newark, New Jersey, out-classed Mongolia’s Tsendbaatar Erdenebat throughout their three-round quarterfinal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stevenson, a smooth southpaw who has exhibited poise beyond his years during these Olympics, won by the same score, 30-27, on all three scorecards.
Stevenson’s victory assured him of at least a bronze medal. His goal, of course, is to become America’s first Olympic gold medalist in boxing since his idol, Andre Ward, won gold at 178 pounds 12 years ago in Athens.
Erdenebat attacked Stevenson at the opening bell, but Stevenson simply moved out of punching range, re-established his distance, and landed jabs, body blows and counter lefts to take command immediately. He completely controlled the action thereafter as Erdenebat, also 19, attempted to landed the big punch he so desperately needed to change the course of their one-sided encounter.
It never happened, which allowed Stevenson to improve to 2-0 in Olympic competition and 25-0 overall in international matches.
Stevenson will face Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the 123-pound semifinals Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT. Nikitin won a highly controversial, 30-27 decision over Ireland’s Michael Conlan in another bantamweight quarterfinal earlier Tuesday.
The Stevenson-Nikitin fight can be viewed live at NBCOlympics.com.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.