RICHMOND, JUNE 6 -- The U.S. boxing team, not known for its successes in non-Olympic competitions, was impressive tonight at Richmond Coliseum, but once again ended up on the losing end of a U.S.-U.S.S.R. Heavyweight Invitational, 5-3.

The United States, which had been defeated in eight of the nine previous heavyweight competitions against the Soviet Union by a combined match score of 53-25, won three of the first four fights. But the Soviets came back with victories in the final four bouts.

"I feel good about tonight," said U.S. Coach Pat Nappi, who has handled the last three U.S. Olympic boxing teams. "I would say that all the guys who fought for us tonight are prospects for 1988."

The American victors in this competition for fighters in the three heaviest amateur weight classes -- light heavyweight (178-pound limit), heavyweight (201-pound limit) and super heavyweight (more than 201 pounds) -- were light heavyweights Alfred Cole of Fort Bragg, N.C.; Anthony Hembrick of Fort Hood, Tex. and Andrew Maynard, a graduate of Suitland High School, who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.

Hembrick, selected by the Soviet coaching staff as the top U.S. boxer, was by far the most impressive boxer of the three.

But Maynard, whose family lives in Landover, had the most impressive victory of the evening, a 2-1 decision over Nurmagomed Shanavazov. Shanavazov was the European and World Cup champion in 1985 and the Goodwill Games champion in 1986. His credentials, however, were decidedly unimpressive to Maynard.

"When we fight the Russians, everybody always says, 'Uh-oh, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming. They hit hard. They come right at you and try to back you up.' I wanted to back him {Shanavazov} up," said Maynard, who was being seen by many members of his family for the first time in nearly two years. "I was so fired up. I saw my father and I knew everybody was cheering for me. Losing was definitely not on my mind."

The bout was a closely contested and hard-fought one that left both men arm-weary by the final bell. Early on, Maynard threw the majority of the punches but nevertheless seemed the fresher of the two as the fight wore on. Flurries of punches that piled up points during the third round made the difference for Maynard, who was fighting for just the 26th time of his three-year career.

The U.S. team got off to a good start with Cole defeating Oleg Zabolotskikh, 2-1. The 6-foot-3 Cole, who enjoyed about a six-inch reach advantage over the 5-9 Zabolotskikh, did his best work in the middle of the ring, where he was able to measure and control the ever-charging Soviet with jabs and combinations.

For Hembrick, control was never an issue. The U.S. amateur middleweight (165-pound) champion totally outclassed Stanislav Smirnov, pounding the Soviet with numerous combinations that drew roar after roar from the crowd.

In the next fight, the Soviet junior light heavyweight champion Andrei Kurnavka turned things around. Soviet referee Nikolai Lovelius needed just 1:24 of the first round to decide Michael Liles of the District had had enough. However, Maynard then extended the U.S. lead to 3-1 with his victory.