Ramla Ali made history by the time she stepped through the ropes to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
Once the bell rang, however, the afternoon belonged to her opponent as Ali was eliminated from competition by Romania’s Maria Claudia Nechita. All five judged awarded the bout to Nechita, who never stopped pressing the action in their Round of 16 featherweight bout Monday afternoon at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Nechita won 30-27 on all five scorecards.
Ali became the first boxer ever to represent Somalia on the Olympic stage, paying homage to her birth country which her family fled to London as war refugees when she was a toddler. Her compelling backstory was enough to get her on this stage, but her skillset was nearly no match for Nechita who landed rapid-fire, purposeful combinations throughout the opening round.
The same pattern held true for round two. Ali—who turned pro last Halloween—failed to find her rhythm, while Nechita worked her jab which set up heavy right hands and multi-punch combinations. Ali offered little more than airtight defense in her best effort to deflect the incoming.
Ali was more mobile in round three, attempting to shoot her jab though at a point when she needed a knockout to win. That moment never came, as Nechita sails into the quarterfinal round.
The win by Nechita was the first ever for a Romanian female boxer. Her predecessor, Mihaela Lacatus failed to advance beyond the opening round of the 2012 London Olympics.
Ali will likely return to the pros, where she is signed to Matchroom Boxing and is managed by 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
In addition to her boxing career, Ali is also an active model and a civil rights activist. She has also authored a self-help book that is due for release in September and will be the subject of a feature film.
What isn’t in her future, however, is another fight in the Olympics. That moment belongs to Nechita, who is now one win away from providing Romania with its first ever Olympic medal in women’s boxing.