Stevenson vs. Ramirez Gold Medal Bout To Air Live On USA Network


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The bantamweight Gold medal matchup between USA's Shakur Stevenson and Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez wil air live on USA Network, NBC Sports brass confirmed Saturday morning after discussing in full detail throughout Friday afternoon and evening. The bout will live and in its entirety on Saturday, with both boxers due in the ring at 1:15 pm ET (2:15 pm Rio time). 

Seven Gold medal bouts remain, with three to take place on Saturday. The other two on the day will air via same-day tape delay during the 8:00pm ET hour on USA Network:

  • Great Britain's Nicola Adams seeking her second straight flyweight Olympic Gold medal as she faces France's Sarah Ourahmoune;
  • Cuba's Arlen Lopez versus Uzbekistan's Bektemir Melekuziev in the Men's Middleweight finals, and a matchup of the two most dominant boxing teams in 2016 Olympic competition

All four Gold medal bouts on Sunday, August 21 will air live on NBC Sports Network, Included among the lot, USA's Claressa Shields looks to become the first American boxer ever to win Gold in back-to-back Olympics, having dominated the middleweight field during the 2012 London Games, the first year in which Women's boxing was featured in the summer games. 

As for Saturday's live viewing, the decision was a smart one by NBC Sports given the significance. 

Stevenson is already assured at least a Silver medal, the best finish by any U.S. male boxer since his boxing idol Andre Ward struck Gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics. That same competition saw Andre Dirrell capture a Bronze medal, the last time any U.S. Olympic men's boxing team earned at least two medals. 

Just one medal total had come of the past two Olympics on the male side - Deontay Wilder earning the Bronze medal during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The men's team came home empty-handed during the 2012 London competition, the worst finish ever in U.S. boxing history. 

The 2016 team has changed that, with the men racking up 11 total wins - one shy of the combined total of the 2008 and 2012 male squads. Stevenson and Bronze medalist Nico Hernandez have each claimed three victories, although one such win for Stevenson came via walkover when Russia's Vladimir Nikitin was a medical scratch for their scheduled bantamweight semifinal on Thursday. 

Nikitin was the benefactor of two questionable decisions - getting the nod in controversial calls over Thailand's Chatchai Butdee and Ireland's Michael Conlan. The latter was the most notable, as Conlan came in as the number-one seed and left with a profanity-filled tirade speaking to the level of corruption that sadly still exists within what was promised to be a reformed International Boxing Association (AIBA).

Significant fallout came from the movement, including all seven AIBA "five-star" referee and judges -  Mik Basi (Great Britain), Michael Gallagher (Ireland), Mariusz Gorny (Poland), Vladislav Malyshev (Russia), Gerardo Poggi (Argentina), Rakhymzhan Rysbayev (Kazakhstan) and Kheira Sidi Yakoub (Algeria) - being benched for the remainder of the 2016 Rio Olympics, as have been Meng Wang (China) and Khas-Erdene Khishgee (Mongolia).

Unfortunately for the boxers who were victimized, none of the verdicts from the previously scheduled 266 Olympic bouts were subject for appeal, as that process no longer exists. 

Still, Stevenson and Ramirez both earned their way to reach this point. Ramirez captured Gold as a flyweight for Cuba in the 2012 London Olympics, but struggled during the Qualifiers in getting to Rio. He eventually made his way to the bantamweight field, coming in as the number-six seed but dominating the competition in becoming one of six members from a loaded Cuban boxing squad that will take home an Olympic medal. 

The USA vs. Cuba Olympic Gold medal boxing matchup is the first since 1996. That bout became a significant entry in U.S. men's Olympic history, with David Reid rallying from behind to score a knockout win over Alfredo Duvergel.

The feat spared the U.S. team the embarrassment of failing to capture Olympic Gold, although the U.S. has not brought home more than one in any of the previous six Olympics. Oscar de la Hoya earned Gold in 1992 Barcelona; Reid in 1996 Atlanta; no Gold was claimed in 2000 Sydney; War the lone Olympic champion for U.S. in 2004 Athens; none in 2008 Beijing; and Shields running the tables in 2012 London. 

Stevenson and Shields now have a chance to accomplish what hasn't happened for U.S. Olympic boxing since 1988 - and will both get to do so in front a live, televised audience.

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