Albert Batyrgaziev of the Russian Olympic Committee won the men’s featherweight gold medal today at Tokyo 2020, winning a 3:2 decision over Duke Ragan of the United States.
The result was fair and should be without any controversy. Batyrgaziev took scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27 on the cards that went his way, with Ragan winning two 29-28 cards.
The defeat means that the gold medal drought for the U.S. men’s boxing program, which hasn’t seen a top medalist since Andre Ward in 2004, will continue at least a few more days. The U.S. does have super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr set for gold medal action against the heavily-favored Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan on Sunday, and lightweight Keyshawn Davis is still alive, too, fighting in a semifinal on Friday. If he wins, his gold medal bout would also be on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Ragan, a Cincinnati native who was a late addition to Team USA, will definitely see his stock rise with his performance in Tokyo. He’s already a pro prospect, with a 4-0 (1 KO) record, under contract with Top Rank, who will definitely be able to use this as a way to market him going forward. It’s not always just about gold, of course, at least for a pro career. Shakur Stevenson won silver in 2016, and I’d say he’s done alright for himself as a pro with Top Rank so far.
Batyrgaziev, also 23, is himself already a professional, going 3-0 (3 KO) in a trio of fights between July 2020 and Jan. 2021. He’s already been out there in 10-round bouts, while Ragan has been competing in four- and six-round fights, and at times in this bout, you could kind of see the difference in where their development is despite being the same age. Batyrgaziev was able to swarm enough, particularly in the first round, which threw Ragan off his game a bit.
But Duke definitely went for it here in the latter two rounds, did not get mentally beaten, and left it all in the ring. Both of these young men have everything to be proud of for their runs in the Olympics.
On his way to gold, Batyrgaziev defeated Alexy de la Cruz of the Dominican Republic, Tsendbaatar Erdenebat of Mongolia in a fight where Batyrgaziev had to rally big, and Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez.
Ragan started in the round of 32 and defeated France’s Samuel Kistohurry in a rough fight, Serik Temirzhanov of Kazakhstan in what may have been his best overall performance, Kurt Walker of Ireland, and Samuel Takyi of Ghana. He’s the first U.S. medalist in the division since Rocky Juarez won silver in Sydney back in 2000. The last gold medalist for the Americans came in 1984 when Meldrick Taylor won in Los Angeles.