Boxing: Hernandez poised to end U.S. medal drought

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[August 12, 2016]    RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The U.S. men's boxing team will be assured of its first Olympic medal since 2008 when Nico Miguel Hernandez faces Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the semi-final of the light-flyweight competition on Friday.

Nico Miguel Hernandez (USA) of USA celebrates after winning his bout against Carlos Quipo (ECU) of Ecuador. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The rules of Olympic boxing guarantee that the losing semi-finalists both receive a bronze medal, meaning that whatever the outcome of Hernandez's bout it will mark an end to the medal drought that plagued U.S. boxing at the 2012 London Olympics.

London was the first Games at which the U.S. male team, which has accumulated more medals than any other in Olympic boxing, failed to finish on the podium.

“It feels good, knowing that we didn’t get a medal last Olympics," Hernandez said after his victory on Wednesday over Ecuador's Carlos Eduardo Quipo Pilataxi in the quarter-final, which was watched by his parents in the crowd.

“But I am not satisfied with a bronze medal. I came here to get gold, so that’s something I continue to work towards," he said. “I don’t want to lose in front of my parents.”

The U.S. Olympic team has in the past featured boxers who would go on to become legends like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard but, in recent years, the supremacy of professional boxing has bled talent from it.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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