American men's boxers will go home without an Olympic medal for the first time ever after last-hopes Raushee Warren and Errol Spence lost narrow decisions Friday, prompting harsh complaints over judging.
France's Nordine Oubaali rallied in the final round to edge Warren 19-18 to reach a flyweight (52kg) quarter-final and India's Krishan Vikas ousted last-man Spence 13-11 to reach the final eight at welterweight (69kg).
US fighters have taken only one gold medal since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, won by Andre Ward in 2004, and managed only a lone bronze in 2008, but suffered their worst Games showing in part because they are uncertain how judges are scoring their bouts.
"It's the judges we feel like we can't get," Warren said. "We don't know what they are scoring. When you throw a jab you don't know if they score it or not. Outside the ring it looks like you are winning but judges don't score."
"It's a big disappointment. I thought I had the decision. You never really know what they are counting on the scorecard. I felt like I did enough to win."
It's a familiar story that angers US assistant coach Charles Leverette.
"It's the same thing every time. Everybody can see it," Leverette said. "If we don't clean it up boxing will disappear. There will be a flood and we will sink. I know it and the athletes are sick and tired of it."
Spence was not willing to go so far as to say judges were biased against American fighters.
"I don't know about that. I just fight my fights and fight to get the decisions," he said. "It is kind of frustrating. I was aggressive. I used the game plan. It just didn't work.
"It's tough. We expected to come home with medals and we didn't. It's a sad day. I feel like I let down my family and people back home."
Spence, who will turn professional, said 2016 US Olympic fighters should look at having more fights well ahead of the Rio Games to adjust to judging.
"In the future, it's something to think about, get a lot of experience early," Spence said. "I had 20 international fights. That's not an excuse."
Warren, who said he felt no extra pressure after seeing seven US fighters eliminated before him, became the first three-time US Olympic fighter dreaming of amateur gold instead of pro riches and came away empty.
"I had a dream. I wanted to come back for the third time. Now I've got to work out what I'm going to do next," Warren said.
"I didn't give it my whole life. I gave it my dream. I've got my whole life ahead of me. It's just a step, working off this mistake."
Oubaali, who lost in the round of 16 at Beijing in 2008, booked a flyweight quarter-final bout against Irishman Mike Conlan, a 19-8 winner over Ghana's Duke Micah.
Britain's Andrew Selby, second in the world amateur welterweight ranks, beat Kazak Ilyas Suleimnov 19-15. A vocal home-nation crowd included his mother for only the second time in his career.
"I'm buzzing," Selby said. "I can and will box out of my skin from now on."
He will next fight Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana, the Pan American Games champion who ousted Thailand's Chatchai Butdee 22-10.
"The Cuban was better, faster and I was too slow, Butdee said. "I couldn't compete with the pace. I was prepared but I didn't have enough experience."
Reigning world amateur welterweight champion Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine advanced with a 15-7 victory over Moldova's Vasilii Belous and world flyweight amateur champion Misha Aloian of Russia beat Algeria's Samir Brahimi 14-9.
Mongolian flyweight Tugstsogt Nyambayar edged 2007 world champion Vincenzo Picardi 17-16.