Vicente Escobedo's family and friends whooped and hollered and waved U.S. flags when he stepped into the ring. By the third round of a fight that had turned into a boxing lesson, they were silent.
No matter how hard Escobedo tried, his opponent, Rovshan Huseynov of Azerbaijan, just kept piling up the points. And when it was over, Escobedo's Olympic hopes were, too.
"He fought a smart fight -- the best man won tonight," Escobedo said. "I was trying too hard, I believe."
The lightweight became the fourth U.S. boxer eliminated, leaving just five fighters in contention. Worse yet, Americans have lost three of their last four fights and do not seem to have a clue on how to cope with their more experienced opponents.
The U.S. fighters are not just being outboxed. They have also been hurt by inexperience and the tendency of judges to favor different styles.
"Our guys are fighting guys who have more international experience and are like pros," said Raul Marquez, a member of the 1992 Olympic team who is working for NBC. "The judges also like the Cubans and the Eastern European countries. They have their guys picked."
Two more Americans fight today: Flyweight Ron Siler takes on Tulashboy Doniyorov of Uzbekistan and middleweight Andre Dirrell faces Nabil Kassel of Algeria.