Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk lost Olympic fights to Clemente Russo who ‘didn’t hit hard’

Clemente Russo handed Olympic heartbreak to Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk but British amateurs would wonder about him: ‘How does this guy get wins?’

Italian police offer Russo, 37, never became a professional boxer but won two Olympic silver medals, the 2007 and 2013 world amateur championships and the 2012 World Series of Boxing tournament.

He remains an enigma because a former British opponent insists Russo was “not technically great” and “didn’t hit hard”.

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But Russo was a successful Olympian?

He competed at four Olympics (and still has time to make it five), winning two silvers.

Russo lost in 2004 to Andre Ward, the future pound-for-pound great.

Beijing 2008 was his career highlight – he outpointed the USA’s Wilder and Ukraine’s Usyk in the heavyweight category (equivalent to cruiserweight in the pro game) but lost in the final to Rakhim Chakhkiev of Russia. Wilder took bronze.

Wilder previously told Sky Sports: “My heart was broken in the Olympics. You can train for four years but when you get to the big dance, your fate doesn’t lie in your hands.”

In 2012 Usyk had his revenge and beat Russo in the gold medal match. Usyk also beat Artur Beterbiev, by the way, en route.

At Rio 2016 Russo lost in the quarter-final to Evgeny Tishchenko of Russia.



“What was he good at? You can’t put your finger on anything…”

Russo defeated Britain’s Danny Price in 2007 in Chicago in the first round of the world amateur championships, which he eventually won.

“He was never technically great or good to watch, he’s just effective at what he does,” Price told Sky Sports.

“He’s difficult to hit. He is a lot smaller which is difficult and he ducks even lower so you’re always punching down. But he had quick reflexes, jumped in with big hooks, and held a lot.

“He didn’t hit hard. He was just awkward and threw shots from different angles. In the amateurs, everyone is quite similarly well-schooled but he wasn’t, he was unorthodox.

“Every time I got a bit of success he would just grab hold.

“You could never get into a rhythm against him because he would always mess the fight up. It was difficult.

“I sat around with James DeGale, Stephen Smith and Frankie Gavin and we’d say: ‘How does this guy get wins?’

“What was he good at? You can’t put your finger on anything. But in the ring with him he was elusive and had quick reflexes.”

Price beat Tony Bellew in the amateurs and says: “Bellew was a well-schooled technically correct amateur. Chalk and cheese to Russo who threw overhand rights and looping hooks that hit you on the back of the head.”

So was Price surprised to see his old rival Russo go on to outpoint Wilder and Usyk?

“Not really – Wilder was never a good boxer, he was just a banger. Usyk was a miles better boxer but if you can’t hit something it’s difficult.

“I can see why Russo beat Wilder. Russo would have beaten him 10 times out of 10 as an amateur.”

Would Russo have been a successful pro boxer?

“He’d get so far before being found out,” Price said. “Because he doesn’t hit too hard.

“But it’s unfair to say because a lot of good amateurs don’t make it as a pro. They are totally different games so it depends how he would have adapted. Russo had Olympic pedigree.”

What does the future hold for Russo?

He is still trying to qualify for his fifth Olympics, which has been rescheduled for 2021.

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