Keyshawn Davis didn’t start out in 2021 believing he wouldn’t join the U.S. boxing team in Tokyo.
He is now the nation’s best marksman for a gold medal.
The blue-chip contender and number one American lightweight defeated Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov to reach the men’s lightweight final at Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena on Friday afternoon.
Davis won 29-27 on two cards and was the preferred winner on three cards, down 28-28 after three rounds. According to Olympic rules, any bout that does not end in a majority winner requires the judges who judge the bout to even determine an overall winner.
This makes Davis the first American lightweight since 1992 to shoot gold. The last one to do so was Oscar De La Hoya, who won everything in Barcelona.
Davis was initially kicked from the team after failing to register for mandatory training camp earlier this year.
The US was ready to send just two men and five women to Tokyo, with Davis going pro, where he holds a record of 3-0 (2KOs). With the cancellation of the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier, the way American amateurs were allocated Olympic berths changed. Through his ranking with the Olympic Boxing Task Force (BTF) Davis was granted a place along with the other pros Duke Ragan and Troy Isley.
Four Olympic victories later, Davis is now fighting for gold. Its ascent to the lightweight final gives the US team three boxers who guarantee silver or better, the best Olympic champion in the country since the 1988 team that dominated Seoul, South Korea.
Davis opened the tournament with a three-round shutout against Dutchman Enrico La Cruz. The win was followed by his repeated victory over the French Sofiane Oumiha, the number two of the seeded positions, which Davis stopped in the last 16 within two rounds. A narrow win over Gabil Mamedov (ROC) put Davis in the medal round, giving the US a total of four medals to match the total number of the 2000 team that fought in Sydney.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox