Keyshawn Davis entered the Tokyo Olympics with the best shot at becoming the first American male boxer since 2004 to bring home a Gold medal.
That goal fell one fight short, to an old amateur rival.
Davis will take home a Silver medal for the U.S., following a decision in favor of Cuba’s Andy Cruz in their men’s lightweight division. Davis won 29-28 on one card, trumped by scores of 29-28 on four cards in favor of Cruz, who is now 4-0 versus Davis following his Gold medal haul Sunday afternoon at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
The two met three times prior to the Olympics, the most recent coming in the 2019 World Amateur Championships. Davis’s contention was that he was still a kid, whereas he comes to Tokyo as a 22-year-old man. Marked improvements were shown in Davis’ start, firing a purposeful jab in his best effort to taking the fight straight to Cruz. He was falling just short with his right hand, while Cruz was able to stick and move, while tying up on the inside when the moment called for it.
Davis trailed 10-9 on four of the five cards after one round but never lost focus of what was at stake. A relatively rugged start to round two shifted in Davis’ favor after landing a right hand flush on Cruz’s chin. The shot was a momentum changer, as Cruz was no longer as mobile as was the case throughout the fight to that point. Davis closed the round strong, reflected in winning on all five scorecards.
There was still more work to do.
Davis continued to take the fight straight to Cruz in the third and final round. Cruz adapted, poking with a right hand before moving to the outside. Davis continued to come forward, landing a right hand and then working the body of Cruz. Davis reached with a jab but an effort to follow with a right was countered by Cruz. The momentum shift was brief for the Cuban, who was clipped with a right hand with 0:45 to go. A right hand and left hook by Davis found its home shortly before the bell.
It just wasn’t enough, as all five judges awarded the round to Cruz.
Davis was one of four U.S. fighters to medal in Tokyo, providing USA with its best haul since the 2000 team that nabbed two Silver and two Bronze medals in Sydney, Australia. Of this year’s team, Davis was one of three Americans to nab Silver or better, the best performance since the stacked 1988 squad that claimed three Gold and three Silver medals in Seoul.
Cruz is one of five Cuban boxers to medal and one of four to win Gold, the most by any men's boxing team in Tokyo.
Gabil Mamedov (ROC) and Harry Garside (Australia) earned Bronze medals for their respective teams.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox