"We did a lot of work, got a lot of coaching, but it's the judges that we feel we're going against most of the time," Warren said.
Spence knew the feeling after three rounds of trying to break through the passive guard of Vikas, who fights a rigid amateur style emphasizing defense and tactical aggression. India's amateur boxing scene has surged in popularity in the four years since Vijender Singh won his nation's first Olympic medal in Beijing, with thousands of prospective Olympians training in the amateur style with no intention of ever turning pro.
The U.S. seemed headed for a better showing last week. The 4-0 start showed its improved team chemistry after the Beijing team squabbled and argued its way to a dismal showing.
The current U.S. team has a strong relationship with coach Basheer Abdullah and his staff, even though Abdullah only had about six weeks to prepare as a late hire by USA Boxing. None of the fighters blamed the coaching-staff turmoil for his performance, but the string of losses was stark: Three fighters lost on Wednesday, followed by two more on Thursday before Warren's defeat.
After Spence's apparent loss, Abdullah came close to suggesting the judges might have been biased against some American fighters, although he also believes U.S. boxers need years of training in the amateur sport to compete at its highest levels. Amateur boxing features five ringside judges who award points only when they believe a punch lands, rather than traditional scoring systems that evaluate skill, style, technique and aggression.
The amateur sport moved to a computerized scoring system after Jones' infamous loss at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, when three judges awarded a decision to South Korea's Park Hi-sun after Jones dominated their fight.
"I don't blame any (scoring) systems," Abdullah said. "I blame the people that operate them. I'm disappointed in some of the things I'm seeing."
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