RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The U.S. boxing team won no more golds in Rio than in London four years ago -- none for the men and one for the women -- but there were signs of progress even as others piled up the medals.
While French fiancées Tony Yoka and Estelle Mossely both won gold, and Uzbekistan and Cuba won three each, the U.S. tally of a gold, silver and bronze represented an improvement on 2012 for the former powerhouse.
Retaining Claressa Shields, now a two times women’s middleweight champion at the age of 21 and full of confidence, will be important going forward to Tokyo 2020.
“We are hopeful. We’ll sit down with her and try to convince her to stay,” U.S. coach Billy Walsh told Reuters.
“She had thoughts of wanting to move on (go professional) but ... there’s only a couple of people that have achieved three gold medals in the history of boxing and she’ll only be 25 come the next Games.”
Team mate Shakur Stevenson, the bantamweight silver medallist, has a professional future ahead as does light-flyweight bronze Nico Hernandez, who may feel better after the man who beat him was declared boxer of the tournament.
That Val Barker Trophy honor was shared between Shields and Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov, who has signed a professional contract with South African promoter Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves.
Many of the other medal winners from Rio, a competition overshadowed by a judging furor despite a change in the system, will doubtless re-emerge in the pro ranks -- and possibly return now that the Games are open to paid fighters.
Brazilian Robson Conceicao, who drew the biggest crowd of any boxer in Rio when he won the lightweight gold, said his life had changed forever.
Irish bantamweight world champion Michael Conlan, who accused judges of robbing him of his dream, felt his had too.
“I will never box an AIBA competition again,” he vowed. “Not APB, not WSB, not world championships or Olympic Games.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury