RIO DE JANEIRO — It was a big blow for the pros in Rio de Janeiro.
The three professional fighters that bucked 112 years of amateur competition in Olympic boxing have all been eliminated from the tournament.
Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng, Cameroonian fighter Hassan N’Dam and Italy’s Carmine Tommasone are history.
Ruenroeng was the last one eliminated. Sofiane Oumiha of France absolutely battered him over the final two rounds before the fight was stopped Monday. Ruenroeng was gassed after a competitive first round, and took two standing eight counts in the second. He was stopped in the third.
Tommasone lost a unanimous decision to Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez in a lightweight bout Monday morning. N’Dam was ousted over the weekend.
The trio wasn’t exactly the big professional names the International Boxing Association had hoped to compete when it decided earlier this year to allow any boxer to attempt to qualify for the Olympics.
Floyd Mayweather stayed retired. Manny Pacquiao never budged from his role as a Philippine senator. Amir Khan didn’t try for another medal run.
Eight years after Ruenroeng fell just short of a medal in Beijing, the 36-year-old former IBF flyweight champion was simply dominated in a lightweight bout. The 21-year-old Oumiha connected with a big right hand in the third round for another eight count and the match was stopped.
“It doesn’t change anything if it’s professional or not,” Oumiha said. “I’ve been working for the Olympics and am well prepared to fight and win.”
Ruenroeng, who had served time in a Thai prison, earned a spot at the Beijing Olympics and won two fights, but fell one fight shy of a medal in the light flyweight division.
Ruenroeng and Tommasone had each won their first fights at the Rio Olympics.
The 32-year-old Tommasone never found his stride against Alvarez, a three-time world champion in two classes.
“I consider them professional amateurs,” Tommasone said. “They are professional players of three rounds. I tried to adapt to the three-round matches but it was difficult to adapt.”
Tommasone fights as a 126-pound professional featherweight, but chose the 132-pound lightweight division for the Olympics, likely making it easier to deal with daily weigh-ins.
Three-round bouts, the demands of the daily weigh-ins in a multi-fight tournament and injury concerns all played a role in keeping more professional fighters from changing their pursuit from championship gold around their waist to Olympic gold around their neck.
There was also some fear in the boxing community that the tournament would have been stuffed with lopsided matchups had the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin actually signed up.
Turned out, the amateurs are the last ones left fighting.
“He was just better than me,” Tommasone said. “He won the match.”
Story: Dan Gelston