It was Ladies Night for the American women on Monday at the Americas Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina as all three earned quarterfinal wins in the Olympic qualifying event. Welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) started the day off with a U.S. victory in the early session while Pan American Games champion Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) dropped his flyweight contest.
Kroll was one of the surprises at the Olympic Trials, making an improbable run to the title through the challengers bracket. He continued his winning ways in Argentina on Monday afternoon at the Americas Olympic Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Kroll competed in the only American bout of the day’s early session against the Cayman Islands’ Hopkins Ebanks. Kroll looked to work his way in to the bout in the first round and clearly landed the cleaner shots over the opening three minutes. Toward the end of the round, a knot developed over his right hand but cornerman Augie Sanchez went to right to work on it between rounds and ensure it didn’t affect Kroll for the remainder of the bout. Kroll got stronger over the last two rounds and increased his aggression as the bout were on. He began to break Ebanks down through the last three minutes and went on to win a unanimous decision victory in his tournament debut. He will face a tough task in his quarterfinal match-up on Wednesday evening as he faces 2012 Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias of Cuba.
“My jab was working today from both sides when I was orthodox and southpaw. I could tell he didn’t want to fight so I was trying to knock him out too much. I could have gotten it done if I would have relaxed,” Kroll said. “My game plan was to establish my jab and land punches off of my jab. When I saw that he couldn’t handle my straight left hand and right hook, I started to step in the gas to try and stop him.”
Fuchs faced off with a familiar opponent in her quarterfinal bout on Monday evening, taking on Mexico’s Sulem Urbina in the final flyweight bout of the night. The two met just a month ago on a World Series of Boxing card in Miami with Fuchs taking the victory in their February match-up. Urbina came in looking to avenge the loss but Fuchs clearly had other plans. The two battled furiously with each looking to take control and the referee begging for their attention. Fuchs managed to get her punches off and win the rounds to earn her first victory of the Americas Qualifier and advance to the semifinals. The win puts her one victory away from qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games. She will meet Colombia’s Victoria Ingrit Lorena Valencia on Thursday afternoon in the qualifying bout.
“It feels good, I’m ready for the next one. Since I just fought her (Urbina) in Miami, I knew she would bring it a little harder and yes she did. She definitely put the pressure on a little more,” Fuchs said. “I didn’t fight her fight. Yes, it was a little bit more of a brawl here and there but I got accustomed to it. I got the clear shots in, got back out and boxed her.”
The first American boxer to compete for a second time at the Americas Qualifier, Mayer put on a masterful performance in her quarterfinal bout with Caroline Veyre of Canada. She consistently landed straight shots, connecting with her accurate punches through all four rounds. Mayer’s domination grew as the bout wore on and she seemed to land at will over the second half of the match. Her efforts earned Mayer a 3-0 decision and a spot in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon. She will face Puerto Rico’s Kiria Tapia for a spot in the tournament finals.
“Honestly, I envisioned this fight for a long time and I went through every single round over and over again. I also watched some of her tape and I knew she was going to be right in front of me because she doesn’t move her head. She likes to come forward so I knew as long as I kept letting my hands go, she was going to get hit. She was right lined up for my straight shots,” Fuchs said. “I knew she was the number one seed though. I knew she had beaten all the top girls here so I didn’t underestimate her but I’ve worked really hard for this and I was confident. I didn’t move around so much. I usually do a little too much movement. I’ll punch and circle too much. I think I stayed in the middle. I stayed in front of her. I wasn’t backing up. It was working well for me. I was so relaxed from slowing down my movement and working behind the jab. The 1-2 was landing so nicely that it was keeping her off of me.”
Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) closed the show for her United States team in a middleweight showdown with fellow world champion Athyna Byion of Panama. Byion looked to make it difficult for Shields through the early going, moving around the ring and holding Shields whenever she engaged. Yet the Olympic gold medalist made the necessary adjustments and found a home for her power shots in every opening she got. Byion tried to make the bout ugly, holding Shields repeatedly until the referee took a point for the infraction. Shields didn’t let Byion’s dirty tactics affect her, opening the tournament with a 3-0 victory to advance to the qualifying bout on Thursday, her 21st birthday.
“I felt good. She was awkward, she really didn’t want to commit so I had to pressure her a little bit more than usual. I did great for my first fight. I will do better in my next fight on my birthday. In the first round, I just wanted to put my jab on her and see what she did and she was comfortable boxing from the outside so I brought some more pressure to her and she wasn’t as comfortable,” Shields said. “Every time I threw punches, she grabbed me. I’m excited to be one fight away from my second Olympic Games. I’m excited about fighting on my birthday but I’m most excited about winning this tournament.”
Vargas took on the Dominican Republic’s Leonel De Los Santos in his first flyweight contest. He appeared to get off to a quick start in the bout with the Dominican he defeated en route to Pan American Games gold. Vargas looked to continue that in the final two rounds but De Los Santos tried to avoid him and land shots of his own. The last six minutes were closely contested before De Los Santos was named the victor in the bout. The loss eliminates Vargas from the competition but he will have two more opportunities to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in June.
Heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) will compete in Tuesday’s afternoon session with bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) and middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) boxing in the evening.
112 lbs/female: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas/USA dec. Sulem Urbina, MEX, 3-0
114 lbs/male: Leonel De Los Santos, DOM, dec. Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla./USA, 3-0
132 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA dec. Caroline Veyre, CAN, 3-0
152 lbs/male: Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa./USA dec. Hopkins Ebanks, CAY, 3-0
165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec Athyna Bayion, PAN, 3-0