(LONDON, ENGLAND) – The U.S. Olympic Boxing Team pushed its undefeated to streak to four on Sunday night with lightweight Jose Ramirez (Avenal, Calif.) and welterweight Errol Spence (Desoto, Texas) both claiming first round wins at the ExCel Centre. Ramirez pulled out a 21-20 decision over France’s Rachid Azzedine and Spence closed the night for Team USA with a 16-10 win over Brazil’s Myke Carvalho de Ribeiro.
Ramirez was the first American boxer to compete in Sunday’s evening action, facing veteran and World Series of Boxing champion Azzedine. The 19-year-old looked to get started early in the bout, and enjoyed success late in the round. He trapped Azzedine on the ropes and landed some strong shots at the conclusion of the opening round and held a one-point lead after the first. Both boxers continued to let their hands go in the second but Ramirez did not relinquish his lead, pushing his advantage to two with three minutes of boxing remaining. Azzedine attempted to dent Ramirez’s slim lead in the final round but he wasn’t able to do so and Ramirez won the 21-20 final decision. He moves on to a Thursday match-up with Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in his second round bout.
“There were some nerves coming in, being my first Olympics and being my first bout of the tournament,” Ramirez said. “Now, I feel like I shook those nerves out and hopefully I can just be me in the next bout and let my punches flow better, be smoother inside, and stay smart.”
Spence took the ring just 30 minutes later in a bout with Carvalho de Ribeiro, and it was clear early on that he was the superior boxer. The Dallas native got through his first day jitters and a bit of ring rust, controlling the pace throughout the contest. He took a 5-3 lead after one and the Brazilian boxer looked to combat Spence with several dirty tactics in the second round. The referee took a point from Carvalho de Ribeiro in the second for pushing Spence’s head down repeatedly and Spence held a 12-7 advantage at the end of two. He stayed to the game plan in the third round, winning a 16-10 final decision and pushing the American winning streak to four.
“The Brazilians have a style just like us. They fight like Americans and I was kind of getting used to his style. I wanted to use my jab and pick up the pace. I saw him get a little bit tired so I wanted to keep the pressure on him,” Spence said. “The first one is always the toughest one because you have the butterflies and I haven’t fought since March. I haven’t fought in awhile, at least five months. So to get the first one out of the way, and get my feet wet is good.”
Spence will return to the ring on Friday in a second round match-up with Krishan Vikas of India.
Light heavyweight Marcus Browne (Staten Island, N.Y.) will be the only U.S. boxer competing in Monday’s action as he faces off with Australia’s Damien Hooper at 3:45 p.m. London time (10:45 p.m. ET).
132 lbs/60 kg: Jose Ramirez, Avenal, Calif./USA dec. Rachid Azzedine, FRA, 21-20
152 lbs/69 kg: Errol Spence, Desoto, Texas/USA dec. Myke Carbalho de Ribeiro, BRA, 16-10
Jose Ramirez Quotes
“I didn’t feel a strong hit from him. I know he landed a couple punches and I know I gave away some points that I shouldn’t have. I am still very blessed and thankful that I got the decision. He was a great opponent and it was a great fight. There were a lot of fans here coming to support both of us. It was a big honor to put on a good show.”
“I was just more excited and once I got to the front of the ring and saw the people, a little nerves came in. I was just excited. I was actually talking to my family while I was getting ready through skype. I was very blessed that there’s wifi. I was just trying to think the fight out in my head and stay relaxed and confident. The nerves did come in but I wasn’t really thinking about my opponent too much.”
“There’s always a lot of nerves and tension. You go in there a little tense. I had a lot of motivation knowing that a lot of people are watching. It tenses your body up a little bit. I’m very glad that Team USA is doing so well and overall we are going to take that to the top and go as far as we can go. We are a young team but we’re very hungry.”
“I just like the color (of his boxing boots). It stands out. If you look better and you feel good, you’ll probably fight better. I wanted the gold for the gold medal as well.”
Errol Spence Quotes
“You have to stay focused, it comes with the game, some people just fight like that (with dirty tactics) and you have to stay focused and keep going to the game plan and doing what you’re doing and what you and your coaches worked on.”
“I could hear my teammates and I heard my father and my mother screaming. It does a lot, it is a big momentum booster. It keeps me going and keeps me throwing punches because I heard them rooting for me.”
“I’m not surprised (by the strong American start). We worked really hard in training camp. Everyone has a certain game plan they’re following and as long as we stick to the game plan, we will be fine.”
“I’ve been running a little bit earlier here, I run with the team. We do team runs in the morning.”
“Yes, it’s a team that’s really close. We’ve been in camp for awhile together and we’ve known each other for awhile too so that helps. We are all on the same page, we are all focused and we all have the same goal.”
“It helps a lot when you’re a little bit tired and you hear your teammates cheering you on, telling you come on, come on and your mother and father in the crowd. It’s just a big boost and it gets you going.”
“The nerves are gone but you still have a little nerves there because you’re fighting in the Olympics. We are all relaxed and we are all very focused and focused on the task at hand. We are just going to keep pushing and keep the momentum going and keep it going as the bouts progress.”
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).