Team USA's Antonio Vargas and Mikaela
Mayer are Eliminated at the 2016 Olympic Games
by Julie Goldsticker/USA Boxing
August 16, 2016
(AUG 16) RIO DE JANEIRO,
BRAZIL - The United States boxing team dropped two tough bouts
on Monday at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. American
flyweight Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) celebrated his 20th
birthday and was hoping to celebrate with a second round win but
he dropped his second bout of the Olympic Games in a match-up
with Uzbekistan's Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Lightweight Mikaela
Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) competed in her second bout of the
tournament on Monday as well and lost a close decision in a
hard-fought battle with Russia's Anastasiia Beliakova.
Vargas took the ring in the early session at Riocentro Pavilion
6 looking to earn a spot in the quarterfinal round. The squad
from Uzbekistan has enjoyed tremendous success in the 2016
Olympic Games and it continued in their flyweight match-up.
Vargas started the bout looking to box from the outside and
catch the elusive Gaibnazarov. He continued to stalk his
opponent in the second round but Gaibnazarov built a two round
lead in the match-up. Vargas was even more aggressive in the
third round, landing a strong right hand midway through the
round that caught the attention of the crowd. Yet he couldn't
make up his deficit and lost a unanimous decision to Gaibnazarov.
"He was an awkward fighter, awkward southpaw. I've fought very
few styles like that. It was kind of hard to hit him at times.
It's two different styles. His is more European, he keeps his
hands out so it's something different for me. It was a good
fight. I did what I could," Vargas said. I thought it was a
close fight. I wasn't mad when he won the fight. God has gotten
me this far and I'm real grateful. I'm keeping my head up. I'm
just really grateful that I got here. Not too many people get to
see they've been in the Olympics. God has blessed me enough to
experience this feeling and I'm just going to go and support my
He feels that he started to see things late in the bout that
would have been beneficial to figure out early in the match in a
short Olympic-style bout. "That last round, I was hitting with
some shots. I was a little more calm and just reacting more and
coming back and I kind of figured that out in the last round.
Figuring out that style in the first round that's real essential
in these three-minute, three rounds," Vargas said.
Despite the loss earlier than he would have hoped, Vargas has
taken a lot from his first Olympic Games.
"I judge it as a learning experience. I expected more from
myself but it's a fight to learn from. I see new styles everyday
when I'm out here in worldwide tournaments. It's a new
experience. I'm going to go back and learn from my mistakes and
capitalize on what I was doing wrong and try to perfect my
style," he said.
Mayer stepped in to the ring for her quarterfinal contest with
Beliakova in the first bout of Monday's evening session at
Riocentro. She started off quickly in the bout, opening the
first round with a crisp 1-2 to Beliakova's head. Mayer looked
to land clean, straight shots while Beliakova tried to make the
contest more rough and tumble. The American's accurate punches
give her the first round on two of the judges' scorecards. She
started the second round in a similar fashion to the first and
looked to use her movement and clean punching to outbox and
outwork the Russian. The majority of the judges give the second
and third rounds to Mayer's opponent and she entered the fourth
and final stanza needing to win the last two minutes to pull the
bout to a tie. She landed several clean combinations in the
final 120 seconds but only one judge gave her the final round
and she dropped her quarterfinal contest by split decision.
"I'm definitely disappointed. It was a close fight so it makes
it even more disappointing because maybe a couple more
combinations could have done the trick. I thought I might have
pulled it off at the end but I also knew that it was close and I
this is boxing. You let a fight get that close and just don't
know who they're going to give it to. I was hoping they were
going to give it to me but they didn't," she said. "The game
plan was to let that 1-2 go and let her fall in to your jab
because she's not a mover. She puts pressure on despite her
being tall and long so I know she'd run into our shots but her
punch count is high too so she was throwing when I was throwing.
I tried to let my hands go. She's a good boxer. She's tall and
she's long but she fights right in the pocket and she puts
pressure on which you wouldn't really expect of a fighter with
that height and that reach. Good fight but disappointing."
With defending Olympic champion Katie Taylor losing her
tournament opener earlier in the day, it was clear that the
women's lightweight division was wide open. "At this level, it's
an even playing field and I knew that anything could happen and
Katie Taylor going out the first day just proves that anything
can happen at this level. These medals are up for grabs," Mayer
Two more American boxers will compete for medals on Tuesday
afternoon at Riocentro Pavilion 6. Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson
(Newark, N.J.) will face Mongolia's Tsendbaatar Erdenebat in the
quarterfinals at 11:45 a.m., and light welterweight Gary
Antuanne Russell will take on Uzbekistan's Fazliddin Gaibnazarov
at 12:15 p.m.
For full tournament brackets and schedule information, click
114 lbs/52 kg: Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, UZB, dec. Antonio Vargas,
Kissimmee, Fla./USA, 3-0
132 lbs/60 kg: Anastasiia Beliakova, RUS, dec. Mikaela Mayer,
Los Angeles, Calif./USA, 2-0