Team USA enjoyed success on the first full day of the World Olympic Qualifying Event on Friday at the Sarhadchi Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan with all three U.S. competitors taking wins. Flyweight Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) and light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) scored victories in the early session and light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) continued the winning streak in the evening.
Vargas boxed in the opening bout of the day in his flyweight match-up with India’s Gaurav Bidhuri. The 2015 Pan American Games champion kicked off the tournament with a unanimous decision win to advance on to the second round. Vargas will be back in action on Sunday afternoon in a contest with Venezuela’s Yoel Segundo Finol Rivas.
Russell took on Ukraine’s Victor Petrov in his tournament opener on Friday afternoon. He swept all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards in the light welterweight bout to move on to second round competition. Russell will step back in to the ring on Sunday as well, facing off with Ethiopia’s Girmachew Bahiru Tadesse in afternoon action.
Esquivel was the lone American boxer to compete in Friday’s evening action. He faced off with Jordan’s Mohammad Alyazouri in the final U.S. bout of the day. Esquivel closed the day with a victory and pushed the U.S. winning streak to four straight in the tournament with a unanimous decision win over Alyazouri. He will join Vargas and Russell in the next round on Sunday afternoon in a bout with Mongolia’s Erdenebayar Sandagsuren.
Two American boxers will compete on Saturday in Azerbaijan. Welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) will compete in his second bout of the tournament in the afternoon session, facing off with Sweden’s Oliver Flodin. Heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) will box for the first time in the Saturday’s evening session in a bout with Miguel Angel Veliz Correa of Chile.
For full tournament brackets, schedule, results and news, go to: http://www.aiba.org/2016-world-qualification-event/. To watch the live stream of the event, click here.
Coaches Billy Walsh (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Joe Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), and Augie Sanchez (Las Vegas, Nev.) are leading the American team in Azerbaijan. Brandon Walker (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Dana Johnston (Colorado Springs, Colo.) are assisting the team as Team Manager and Athletic Trainer.
Male light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), male bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), female lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.), male lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.), and male middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland, Ohio) have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games and are now preparing for the event, which will begin in 50 days.
114 lbs/52 kg: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla./USA dec. Gaurav Vidhuri, IND, 3-0
141 lbs/64 kg: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md./USA dec. Victor Petrov, UKR, 3-0
178 lbs/81 kg: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif./USA dec. Mohammad Alyazouri, JOR, 3-0