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Greatest Boxers Who Failed to Strike Gold in Olympics

We just witnessed Oleksandr Usyk ascend to the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound list. He not only edged Tyson Fury but also battered the former unbeaten heavyweight champion like no one has before. Now, Usyk is the only boxer who can brag about being a two-division undisputed champion and Olympic gold medalist. Usyk overcame both boxing and Olympic odds to become arguably the greatest boxer of his era.

But while he enjoyed success on both the amateur and professional scene, not all all-time greats can say the same. Many, like Floyd Mayweather Jr., fell just short of earning that elusive gold medal.

Greatest Boxers Who Failed to Strike Gold in Olympics
Floyd Mayweather | Kaushik Naik / The Times of India via AFP


Mayweather, Jones Among Legends Who Did Not Win Gold

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roy Jones Jr., and Gennady Golovkin. What do they have in common? No, they’re not just all-time boxing greats. They’re also Olympic losers. But that’s okay – there is no shortage of household names who came up short in the amateur ranks, partly due to some infamous judging. Just ask Mr. Roy Jones.

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Roy Jones Jr. Robbed in Seoul

When you look up the meaning of “home cooking,” you should see a photo of the 1988 gold medal bout between Jones and South Korea’s Park Si-Hun. We’ve seen some bogus decisions in pro boxing, but none of them compare to what happened here. Park was the host country’s kid and did well in making it to the final, but he was outmatched.

Jones beat up Park for all five rounds. He landed 86 punches to Park’s 32. Yet, somehow, the judges found a way to give three of the five rounds to Park. To add insult to injury, Park hugged Jones and hoisted him in the air as a celebration.

The American went on and became a four-division champion. He even became a heavyweight champion despite starting at light middleweight. But his biggest accomplishment is finding the self-restraint to not sucker-punch Park out of frustration.

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Horrible Decision Costs Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather never lost a professional boxing match and he famously retired with a 50-0 record. He’s considered the greatest boxer of his era when he captured titles in three weight classes. But during the 1996 Summer Olympics, he lost a controversial decision to Serafim Todorov.

The man they call “Money” got his stolen when judges awarded the bout to the Bulgarian. It was an egregious decision that saw Mayweather’s team file a complaint to little avail. To this day, this is Mayweather’s only high-profile “loss.” And anyone who bet online on this match would have felt just as bad as Mayweather.

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Gennady Golovkin Denied Gold in 2004

Many still insist that Gennady Golovkin is the greatest middleweight boxer of his era. He may have lost to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez twice, but many consider his “draw” a victory. But as prolific as the Kazakh was, he lost fair and square during the 2004 Olympics. Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov ousted him during the gold-medal bout.

Golovkin shook that loss off and became the most dominant middleweight champion since Bernard Hopkins. Gaydarbekov never turned professional and may be the greatest boxer to never do so.


Miguel Cotto Fails to Medal at all

Miguel Cotto may be the greatest boxer from his home country of Puerto Rico. He collected championships in four weight classes and faced the who’s who, from Mayweather to Manny Pacquiao. Junito even holds the distinction of making Mayweather bleed. But as decorated as he was professionally, he did not win anything notable as an amateur.

In fact, Cotto did not even make it to the medal rounds in the Olympics. He competed in 2000 in Sydney but was eliminated in the first round of the light welterweight tournament. To his defense, he lost to the eventual gold medalist Muhammad Abdullaev, whom he finished in a rematch in the pros five years later.


Honorable Mentions

That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as legends who came up short in the Olympics. Add the likes of Kostya Tszyu in 1988, Evander Holyfield in 1984 and Wilfredo Gomez in 1972. But as far as their professional careers were concerned, they lit up the online sports betting odds en route to Hall of Fame careers.



Questions Of The Day

Which boxers will represent Team USA in the 2024 Olympics?

Thus far, five boxers have officially qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. They include Jahmal Harvey who won gold at the 2023 Pan American Games.

Which country is favored to win the most boxing gold medals?

The sportsbook has yet to release betting odds for boxing in the Olympics. Check again closer to the date.

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