Just four years after a dreadful showing where none of its men's boxers managed a medal, Team USA boxing will be back on the podium, with light flyweight Nico Hernandez of Wichita, Kansas, defeating Ecuador's Carlos Quipo today, guaranteeing him at least a bronze medal.
Hernandez, 20, has put together a very surprising run in Rio, defeating Italy's Manuel Cappai, No. 2 seeded Russian Vasily Egorov, and now Quipo, a two-time Olympian. None of the fights have been easy for Hernandez, and he found himself in a bit of a hole in the win over Quipo, too, dropping the first round on two of three judges' scorecards.
He came back to win the second on two of three, though, evening things up at 19-19 going into the final round, which decide the fight. Hernandez gave the big effort, and convinced the judges that he'd done enough to win the round, and move on to the semifinal.
That next matchup will be against Uzbekistan's Hasanboy Dusmatov, who was very impressive in a win over Kazakh veteran Birzhan Zhakypov in the fight prior to Hernandez-Quipo.
Also of note, the United States has not had a medalist in the light flyweight (49kg) division since Michael Carbajal won silver in 1988. Along with Paul Gonzales' gold in 1984 and Harlan Marbley's bronze in 1968, Hernandez has joined a small group of Americans who will medal in this division.