By Gary R. Blockus | Sept. 02, 2017, 1:49 p.m. (ET)
Duke Ragan fights in the men's bantamweight semifinal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships on Aug. 31, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.

 

Duke Ragan wrapped up the AIBA World Boxing Championships with a silver medal on Saturday, helping the U.S. to its best finish at the event since 1999.

The 19-year-old Ragan fell 3-2 to Kazakhstan’s Kairat Yeraliyev in the 56 kg. final in Hamburg, Germany. It was the first U.S. silver medal at the world championships since 2009, and was the third U.S. medal of the event.

Ragan defeated Yeraliyev, a 2016 Olympian, 5-0 last March en route to winning the Chemistry Cup in Halle, Germany, but the familiarity between the two led to an exciting, spirited fight with Ragan coming out on the short end.

The U.S. has not won a bantamweight gold medal at the world championships since 1999, and has not won an individual gold medal at any weight since 2007.

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Ragan, from Cincinnati, reached the final despite debuting in international boxing just this year. He began by eliminating Cuban medal favorite Javier Ibanez with a 4-1 decision in his opening bout of the tournament. The U.S. fighter then notched three unanimous decisions — including a win over No. 2 seed Jiawei Xhang of China in Tuesday’s quarterfinals — to earn his place in the gold-medal match.

On Thursday, U.S. teammates Freddy Rojas Jr. (64 kg.) and Troy Isley (75 kg.) picked up bronze medals when they lost their semifinals bouts. Because there is no third-place match, bronze medals are awarded to the losers in the semifinals.

Ragan, Rojas and Isley join the ranks of only 42 other American boxers who have notched the title of elite men’s world championship medalist in the 39-year history of the event. The three medals are the most for the U.S. since the team won four in 1999.

Six Americans were among the 280 boxers who qualified for the world championships, 18 of whom medaled at the 2016 Olympics.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.