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Digest: Maryland boxer Gary Antuanne Russell falls short of a medal

Digest: Maryland boxer Gary Antuanne Russell falls short of a medal

He knew what was coming, so when the ring announcer confirmed it and the referee raised the hand of his opponent, Gary Antuanne Russell merely dropped his head ever so slightly and, guided by the referee, pivoted to his left — and looked right into the eyes of his father. Gary Russell Sr. had spent the entire three-round fight leaning against a railing just beyond the ring, and now he was trying to figure out what he was going to say to his son in the worst moment of the latter's burgeoning career.

"You did your thing, Shorty," Russell Sr., the patriarch of the fighting Russell family of Capitol Heights, eventually told his latest familial protege, as he recounted later. "I didn't have the money to buy the judges."

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The younger Russell, the latest in a line of accomplished Gary Russells, was led toward the NBC ringside announcers, who put a microphone to his mouth, and Russell told them, "Disappointment. I feel like I dishonored my family."

But that was absolutely not the case. All Russell had done Tuesday afternoon at the Riocentro Pavilion 6 was lose his bout by a split decision — and a controversial one at that — in the quarterfinals of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. On a day when U.S. teammate Shakur Stevenson advanced to the semis with an easy victory, clinching at least a bronze medal, Russell's own Olympics ended one victory shy of a medal. It sent him back to Prince George's County, where he soon will begin a professional career, without the thing he came here to win.

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Gary Antuanne Russell, right, of Capitol Heights is tied up with Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan in the boxing men's light welter (64kg) quarterfinal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Riocentro.
Gary Antuanne Russell, right, of Capitol Heights is tied up with Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan in the boxing men's light welter (64kg) quarterfinal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Riocentro. (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

"I set a bar for myself very high. I'm trying to live up to the family legacy, and then some," Russell said. "I wouldn't have poured myself into it [just] to make it to the medal round. I didn't come here for the bronze; I came here for the gold."

It was little consolation to Russell that his father, his coaches and the greatest fighter of this generation all believed, to a man, that Russell had beaten Uzbekistan's Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, despite the 2-1 split decision in the latter's favor.

A sampling of their comments:

"It's a crying shame," U.S. head coach Billy Walsh said of the judges' decision. "It's distressing."

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Digest: Maryland boxer Gary Antuanne Russell falls short of a medal

"The punches he landed were clear," U.S. assistant coach Augie Sanchez said. "He was rocking this kid. He landed the cleaner shots. He backed [Gaibanazarov] up the whole fight. He had the pressure. He had the punches. I mean, what more do you gotta do?"

"You're up close — and you can't score the fight right?" said Kay Koroma, another U.S. assistant. "I don't know how Gary lost any round. The [other] kid couldn't get a punch off on Gary. It was ridiculous to me. Gary just totally shut him down. It was just beautiful. For them to stick him up like that, it's just bad."

"He won the fight," Gary Russell Sr. said. "Everybody knows he won."

"I thought Gary Russell got robbed today," said former five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather, who was in the stands watching.

Gary Antuanne Russell of Capitol Heights defeated fellow American Richardson Hitchins, representing Haiti, in his first-round boxing match at the Olympics on Wednesday.

Russell, 20, had hoped to use a gold medal to propel himself into the professional career he has been planning for years. He had hoped to redeem the disappointment of his brother, Gary Russell Jr., who, in 2008, was in Beijing getting ready for his first fight of the Olympics when he collapsed while trying to make his weight, his Olympics ending before he even stepped into the ring.

"I'm proud of my son," said Gary Russell Sr., who trains Gary Antuanne, just as he has with all his sons who fight: Gary Jr. and Gary Antonio and Gary Allan. "He represented the family. He represented the USA. I'm still happy we're here in Brazil. A lot of people can't say that."

Olympic boxing, however, appears to have another judging crisis on its hands — and not only because of this one controversial decision. Three bouts before Russell's loss, Irish champion Michael Conlan, a bronze medalist in London, yanked off his top and appeared to make an obscene gesture at the judges after they ruled he had lost a unanimous decision.

"The judging has been atrocious. The last time I saw it this bad was in Seoul in 1988," said Walsh, referring to the infamous Olympics at which American Roy Jones Jr. was denied the gold medal in a decision that led to a revamping of the scoring system.

Asked whether he believed the scoring was merely bad, or whether something more nefarious was going on, Walsh paused for a moment and said, "I don't know. I'd like to believe everybody's honest."

As for the fighting Russell family, Gary Antuanne was to have been the last of the line. His professional moniker, he said, will be Gary "The Last" Russell. And no time too soon. Gary Russell Sr. has seen enough of the amateur game to know he doesn't want to see any more.

Except that there's another Gary Russell, Gary Darreke, who has lately started talking about wanting to join the family enterprise.

"This kid, he can punch — either hand. It's freakish," Gary Sr. said, getting animated again. But then he sighed and added: "I'm hoping he doesn't want to do it."

Men's soccer

U.S. and New Zealand to play at RFK in Oct.

The U.S. men's national soccer team will play New Zealand in a friendly Oct. 11 at Washington's RFK Stadium. An official announcement is expected this week. The kickoff time and TV details are being finalized. The U.S. Soccer Federation and local officials signed a contract several weeks ago to stage a match, even though the opponent had not yet been set. Ghana was the USSF's first choice, but scheduling problems on the Black Stars' end prevented an agreement. Ghana has a World Cup qualifier eight days earlier against Uganda, and while teams are allowed to play both a qualifier and a friendly inside the same nine-day FIFA window, the sport's governing body prevents the friendly from taking place more than a five-hour flight and two time zones away because of the burden on players and their clubs. In this case, FIFA declined Ghana's request for a waiver. Aside from the New Zealand match, the Americans will play Cuba on Oct. 7 in Havana. New Zealand will face Mexico on Oct. 8 in Nashville, Tenn. The U.S. men's team has played more times at RFK (23) than any other home stadium.

Steven Goff, The Washington Post

Et cetera

Adam Loewen designated for assignment by D'backs

The Arizona Diamondbacks designated left-handed pitcher Adam Loewen, the fourth overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft by the Orioles, for assignment. Loewen, 32, was 1-0 with a 15.00 ERA in six innings over eight games. He had a 3.52 ERA in 381/3 innings at Triple-A.

More baseball: Charles Martin will discuss his book "Lawyerball" at a meeting of "Talkin' Baseball" on Sept. 3 at 9 a.m. at Brighton Gardens, 7110 Minstrel Way, Columbia. For details, call 410-740-1145.

Major League Lacrosse: Rochester Rattlers defensemen Mike Manley and Joel White were named Major League Lacrosse Defensive Players of the Year, with each receiving 22 points in voting by coaches and general managers. Atlanta Blaze long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff (Loyola Maryland) finished third with 18 points, and New York Lizards defenseman Joe Fletcher was fifth with 13. Chesapeake Bayhawks defenseman Mike Evans (Johns Hopkins, South River) was sixth with 12.

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Golf: Doug McIlvain of Ellicott City and Waverly Woods Golf Club shot 68-74—142 and won the 30th annual Mid-Amateur championship of the Maryland State Golf Association at the Country Club of Woodmore. Andrew Kolarik of Eagle's Nest G&CC was the only one of the top eight scorers to improve on his first-day score, as he finished 72-71—143 to earn second place among the 45 second-round players.

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Women's college lacrosse: Navy named Aly Messinger, a 2016 North Carolina graduate, an assistant coach.

Women's college soccer: Washington College named senior forward Paige Cahoon, sophomore defender-midfielder Arianna Sabatino, junior defender Steph Scott and senior midfielder Laura Tocci co-captains.

Men's college soccer: Washington College named senior midfielder Dimitri Kaliakin, senior defender Derek Stiles, senior midfielder-defender Cole Strong (Severna Park) and senior forward Brian Wilkinson (Mount Saint Joseph) co-captains. ... Montgomery College was ranked sixth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III preseason poll.

Baltimore Sun staff and news services contributed to this article.

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