In 2008, American heavyweight Michael Hunter was one win shy of qualifying for the Olympics. Rather than turn professional immediately, he set his sights on the London Games and maintained his amateur status for four years.

Russia's Artur Beterbiev fights MichaelHunter II, of the United States, left, during their men's bantam 56-kg boxing match. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

His stay at these Games didn’t last long, though, as Hunter lost a close fight Wednesday in his first bout of the tournament, a 10-10 decision that the judges awarded to Russia’s Artur Beterbiev.

“It was worth it,” Hunter said. “I got here. I’m grateful just for the opportunity to step in the ring at this big stage. …My professional career I feel like will turn out better for the long run.”

The 23-year old Hunter, who says he’ll turn pro immediately, abandoned his game plan early and his legs tired by the third round. He also suffered a bloody nose late in the fight and did more holding than punching.

“It’s hurting me now,” he said, “just to know that I got here, and I failed real early into the tournament.”

Hunter said he felt the fight was close but didn’t object to the decision. In Olympic boxing, when the scorecards show a tie, the judges then determine which fighter they felt had the better fight. Hunter said he never should have allowed the bout to be that close.

“If I feel like if I got a tie, I lost. It’s like if you come on time, you’re late,” he said.