Nico Hernandez clinches bronze medal, wins quarterfinal bout
For a country that has struggled to medal in recent Olympics, Nico Hernandez certainly made it look easy on Wednesday, winning a decision against Ecuador’s Carlos Eduardo Quipo Palaxti in the light flyweight quarterfinals in Rio De Janeiro to clinch at least a bronze medal.
Hernandez secured hardware for USA Boxing men for the first time since Deontay Wilder captured bronze in 2008. Hernandez, who won by scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, is also the first American light flyweight since Michael Carbajal in 1998 (silver) to win an Olympic medal. The American team moved to 5-1 in Rio after Hernandez’s win. The 20-year-old advanced to Friday’s semifinal against Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov.
In the evening session, USA’s Gary Antuanne Russell, the younger brother of featherweight titleholder Gary Russell Jr., won a decision against Haiti’s Richardson Hitchins by way of Brooklyn in a light welterweight bout to bring USA’s record to 6-1 in Rio. Russell won by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Hernandez used his superior foot and hand speed to flummox the hard-charging Ecuadorian, who repeatedly launched himself toward his opponent, only to get swatted back by check hooks from Hernandez. The fleet-footed boxer from Wichita, Kansas reached the quarterfinals after upsetting second-seeded Vasilii Egorov of Russia on Monday and has now won three matches in the tournament.