Rio de Janeiro (AP) – The U.S. men's boxing team continues to build on its strong start in Rio.
Flyweight Antonio Vargas became the fourth American man to win at the Olympics when he gritted out a majority decision over awkward Brazilian Juliao Neto.
Despite demonstrating superior skill against a 34-year-old opponent, the 19-year-old Vargas was in trouble on the scorecards until the referee deducted a point from Neto in the third round, either for head-butting or holding. The small Brazilian crowd generated plenty of noise, but Vargas blocked it out.
"It was hard for me to keep my cool in that fight, because you hear the atmosphere and you feel the stage rumbling," Vargas said. "That's one of my first fights that I can say, 'Man, I felt nervous.' I had to pick it up."
After a nine-man team won only five fights and zero medals in London, the six-man American team in Rio has already won seven fights and light flyweight Nico Hernandez's bronze medal. Gary Antuanne Russell and Vargas are still alive in their weight divisions, and top medal hope Shakur Stevenson doesn't even begin competition until Sunday.