Home Amateur & Olympic USA boxers Conwell, Stevenson, Awesome, Hernandez, Russell & Esquivel advance to semis

USA boxers Conwell, Stevenson, Awesome, Hernandez, Russell & Esquivel advance to semis

Credit: USA Boxing

For the second straight day, the United States squad put on a knockout performance at the Americas Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) and light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) took the ring in the early session at the the Ferial la Rural de Palermo. Neither boxer would be denied in their bouts, but their opponents didn’t make their victories easy. Light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) and welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) both competed in evening action with Russell winning his tournament opener. Kroll faced a Cuban Olympic champion in his match-up but fell just short against his much more experienced opponent. Following today’s bouts, the United States team advanced nine boxer to the medal rounds.

After watching boxing action from the stands for the past four days, Hernandez finally got the chance to compete in a bout with Venezuela’s Angelino Rafael Cordova. The two light flyweights got right to it in the quarterfinal match-up with punches flying from bell-to-bell. Hernandez found a home for his left hook in the first round, landing it repeatedly throughout the contest. Both boxers enjoyed momentum spurts over the nine minutes of boxing as the action remaining fast and furious. Hernandez pushed the action in the final minutes, ensuring that he would emerge victorious and he did just that. He took a unanimous decision victory in his tournament debut to clinch his spot in the semifinals. Hernandez will compete against Argentina’s Leandro Blanc for a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games on Thursday afternoon.
“I felt a little rusty because it’s been awhile since I fought, but I’ll be back to it tomorrow. The plan was to box but he didn’t really stop. He kept coming forward so it was hard but I got the job done. Coach told me to feint my jab and he’d come in with a wild shot and I just stepped out, threw my left hook and caught him,” Hernandez said. “I hated the wait. I’ve just been watching everyone win and it makes me want to get in there even more. It finally came today and I’m happy with the decision.”
Esquivel was the first American boxer to face a host nation opponent at the Americas Qualifier and the Argentine crowd did their best to make their voices heard in his bout with Argentina’s Marcos Escudero. Esquivel started landing heavy shots early in the bout as his teammates worked to out-cheer their Argentine counterparts. Both boxers threw and landed power shots over the first two rounds so it was no surprise that they connected at the same time. Esquivel went down briefly just as he landed a clean punch from of his own in the second round but he refused to allow that to slow his efforts in the least. He came out firing with thundering punches in the final round, landing clean shot after clean shot. Esquivel enjoyed a knockdown of his own in the final round, connecting with a right hand that sent Escudero to the canvas. The Argentine boxer made it to his feet during the standing eight count but he clearly wasn’t fit to continue and the referee stopped the bout with just over a minute remaining in the match. Esquivel’s teammates and corner celebrated as his hand was raised for his TKO victory. He will be back for semifinal action on Thursday evening as he boxes against Venezuela’s Albert Ramon Ramirez Duran for a light heavyweight spot in Rio.
“I was touching him here and there, getting my shots off but Coach Billy said I have to pick up the pace because we are here in Argentina. I caught him with that right hand when I switched back to orthodox and he went down,” Esquivel said. “I just went out in that third round trying to give it as much as I can, whether it’s in Argentina or not. I gave it all I can and I came out with the win. They say don’t leave it in the judges’ hands so I didn’t.”
Russell was the final U.S. boxer to make his debut in the Americas Qualifier and he enjoyed a strong showing in his tournament opener. The younger brother of 2008 Olympian and reigning WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. faced Ecuador’s Miguel Ferrin in light welterweight action. Russell showcased the hand speed and power that his fighting family is known for in the quarterfinal bout. He kept the bout quick paced, firing shots off the blocks and landing thudding punches to Ferrin’s body and head. Russell closed the bout strongly on his way to a unanimous decision win in his first match of the Americas Qualifier. He will have a quick turnaround in to his next bout after the long wait, facing Venezuela’s Luis Martin Arcon Diaz in the qualifying bout on Thursday evening. If Russell is successful on Thursday, he will qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
“I felt good to break the ice. It’s going to accelerate overnight. My plan coming in was working my jab, give him some head feints. See how he’s going to react to what I do. The stick was the key the whole fight, controlling the pace, etc.,” Russell said. “Some dogs only bite in their yard, you have to get comfortable biting outside your territory.”
Kroll competed in the last American bout of Wednesday’s action against 2012 Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias of Cuba. Despite his vast experience disadvantage in the match, Kroll came out firing, showing no signs of intimidation in his quarterfinal contest. Kroll was successful in landing strong shots throughout the match and battled his heart out for all nine minutes of the bout. Despite his best efforts, Iglesias’ experience won out and he took a 3-0 decision over Kroll. The loss eliminates Kroll from the tournament but not Olympic contention. He will have two more opportunities to qualify for the Olympic Games in June.
“I feel good. I pushed myself a little at the end. I got a little tired so I saved energy for the last 30 seconds so I could try to steal the round. It was a good fight,” Kroll said. “My right hand was working and I jabbed a little bit. Usually with a southpaw, I just trade power hands. I felt like I won the first and last rounds. Next time I fight him, I’ll beat him.”

Nine American boxers will compete in Thursday’s semifinal competition with eight having the chance to qualify tomorrow. Hernandez, bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), Russell, middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Esquivel, heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas), female flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) and reigning Olympic middleweight champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) can all qualify on Thursday. Lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) must win her weight division to earn her spot in the 2016 Olympic Games. A full list of Thursday’s U.S. bouts can be found below.

U.S. Results
108 lbs/male: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas/USA dec. Angelino Rafael Cordova, VEN, 3-0
141 lbs/male: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md./USA dec. Miguel Ferrin, ECU, 3-0
152 lbs/male: Roniel Iglesias, CUB, dec. Paul Kroll, Philadephia, Pa./USA, 3-0
178 lbs/male: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif./USA won on TKO over Marcos Escudero, ARG, TKO-3
Thursday’s U.S Semifinal Bouts
108 lbs/male: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas/USA vs. Leandro Blanc, ARG
112 lbs/female: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas/USA vs. Victoria Ingrit Lorena Valencia, ARG
123 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA vs. Johan Jose Gonzalez Mendez
132 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA vs. Kiria Tapia, PUR
141 lbs/male: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md./USA vs. Luis Martin Arcon Diaz, VEN
165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA vs. Yenebier Guillen Benitez, DOM
165 lbs/male: Charles Conwell, Cleveland Heights, Ohio/USA vs. Jorge Luis Vivas Palacios, COL
178 lbs/male: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif./USA vs. Albert Ramon Ramirez Duran, VEN
201 lbs/male: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas/USA vs. Yamil Alberto Peralta Jara, ARG

Previous Day Results

Three American athletes scored definitive quarterfinal victories on Tuesday at the Americas Olympic Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) and heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) all recorded convincing victories to advance to the semifinal round. Their wins in today’s action at the Ferial la Rural de Palermo moved all three of them within one win of Olympic qualification.

Stevenson came in to the tournament as one of the most internationally decorated athletes on the U.S. team, but the 18-year-old has always been recognized for his boxing skills more than his power. Stevenson showed a whole new element of his arsenal with a first round KO over Uruguay’s Mathias Bagnado in their bantamweight contest. Stevenson quickly found a home for his punches early in the first round. He hurt Bagnado with a right uppercut, left hand combination in the opening minute and shortly after he landed a perfect right hook on his chin. Bagnado fell back on to the canvas and the referee immediately waived off the bout in the first round. Stevenson’s quick victory clinches him a berth in the semifinal round against Venezuela’s Jose Vicente Diaz Azocar on Thursday evening in Buenos Aires. Should Stevenson emerge victorious in Thursday’s bout, he will fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian.

“I got in there, I started establishing my game plan, which is hit and not get hit and then I landed a right hook. I’m naturally right handed but I fight southpaw. I landed my right hand and he went out. It didn’t feel that hard but I knew I connected clean,” Stevenson said. “The game plan coming in was to box him. We knew he was an ugly fighter. The plan was to box him, keep him on the outside, don’t let him come in and the knockout happened out of nowhere. That’s my first pure knockout.”

Conwell stepped in to the ring five bouts later against a Venezuelan opponent, Johan Jose Gonzalez Mendez in middleweight quarterfinal competition. The aggressive Venezuelan didn’t make it easy for Conwell early, but the youngest member of the U.S. team quickly adjusted to the wild Mendez. Conwell came out strong in the second round, landing heavy shots on the ropes and straight punches despite the Venezuelan looking to hold him. He kept pounding away in the third round and the referee had finally seen enough holding from Mendez, taking a point in the final stanza. Conwell refused to be deterred by Mendez’ tactics, staying focused on the task at hand and finishing the bout strong. He claimed his second win of the tournament by unanimous decision to advance on to Thursday’s semifinals. He will battle Colombia’s Jorge Luis Vivas Palacios in the semifinal round for a middleweight berth in the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I got the unanimous decision two times in a row. One more step to qualify but two more to get gold and bring it home for the 2016 Olympics. I tried to stay calm, work on the inside, pull back with the uppercuts. He was a tough holder though,” Conwell said. “He had a tight grip, he loved hugging but I got the unanimous decision. I think straight shots down the pipe and feints and getting in were working. I’m going to go over the game plan, reevaluate with the coaches and see what I can do better for my next fight.

It was the Awesome show on on Tuesday afternoon and the new, svelte heavyweight did not disappoint his audience. Awesome faced Canada’s Samir El Mais in quarterfinal competition at the Ferial la Rural de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With both the Canadian and American teams and supporters yelling loudly from ringside, Awesome and El Mais battled it out for a berth in the semifinal round. Enjoying the benefits of his new smaller weight division, Awesome was he aggressor in the match-up. He pot shotted El Mais to the body and head, forcing the Canadian backwards. El Mais managed to land a few shots over the course of the bout but Awesome made it clear that it was in control through all three rounds. With Awesome’s teammate and Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) outshouting her Canadian counterpart, Awesome earned a unanimous decision victory and his second win of the tournament. The unanimous decision advances Awesome on to the semifinal bout where he will challenge Yamil Alberto Peralta Jara of host nation Argentina on Thursday. As he needs to finish in the top three to qualify for the Olympic Games, he will clinch his spot with a win on Thursday. Should he not be successful in Thursday’s bout, he will move in to the consolation bout and have a second opportunity to qualify for Rio.

“The fight was pretty good. He landed three big shots, one in each round. I wasn’t happy about it but those were the only shots he really landed. Everything I threw pretty much landed but I was a little afraid to overcommit on punches because he was trying to counter. I was the smaller guy so I just used my distance and dominated. He tried to get busy at the end of the round and I didn’t want to overcommit to that because I felt like I was winning the fight,” Awesome said. “I figured out the old scoring system, I land a punch I get a point, he lands a punch, he gets a point. I felt like I mastered that system and developed a very defensive style. When they changed the scoring system to a 10-point must, I thought it would be negative for me but I adjusted my style for it and it worked out better changing the weight class. I’m happy I changed my weight class because now I can be the aggressor and have someone feel a little bit of power. I dedicate this fight to Antonio Vargas and Moffa. I just have to win one of my two next fights in any order but I want to win them both.”

Four American boxers will compete in quarterfinal competition on Friday with one U.S. boxer making their tournament debut in each session. Light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) and light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) will each compete for the first time on Wednesday. Hernandez will battle Venezuela’s Angelino Rafael Cordova Martinez in the afternoon session while Russell will face Ecuador’s Miguel Ferrin in evening action. Light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) will compete in his second bout of the tournament in an afternoon bout with Argentina’s Marcos Escudero and welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) will challenge Cuban Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias.

U.S. Results
123 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA won knockout over Mathias Bagnado, URU, KO-1
165 lbs/male: Charles Conwell, Cleveland, Ohio/USA dec. Johan Gose Gonzalez Mendez, VEN, 3-0
201 lbs/male: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas/USA dec. Samir El Mais, CAN, 3-0

Asia & Oceanic Qualifier set to Begin March 25

The best boxers from Asia and Oceania are making final preparations for the AIBA Asian/Oceanian Olympic Qualification Event in Qian’an, China, from 25 March to 2 April. The ultimate goal for each of the 279 boxers registered is securing one of the 30 men’s and 6 women’s quota places for Rio 2016, and the chance to represent their country in August on the world’s greatest sporting stage.

”Having nearly 300 boxers participating to the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualification event is a remarkable proof of the vitality of our sport in these 2 continents. The Local Organizing Committee and the City of Qian’an have done a tremendous work and I look forward to witnessing our boxers competing to fulfil their dreams and qualify for Rio 2016 in a state of the art venue.” declared AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.

Among the big names taking part in the women’s competition will be India’s five-time AIBA World Champion Mary Kom, China’s three-time World Champion Ren Cancan and Kazakhstan World Champion Nazym Kyzaybay, firmly underlining the strength of the field.

Uzbekistan boxing has gone from strength to strength in recent months and the men’s team will be looking to secure all six possible quota spaces for Rio with WSB star Hasanboy Dusmatov, AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Bakhodir Jalolov and 2014 Asian Games silver medallist Shakhobiddin Zoirov the strong favourites to book their Olympic places.

Kazakhstan will also be expecting great things from their side which includes rising star and Youth World Champion Abylaykhan Zhussupov, AIBA World Championship runner-up Ivan Dychko, 2013 AIBA World Champion Zhanibek Alimkhanuly and London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Adilbek Niyazymbetov.

The Mongolian boxers looked impressive at the recent Chemistry Cup in Germany, taking three golds at the lighter weight classes, while New Zealand will be sending a twelve-strong team to Qian’an, including the Nyika brothers who both won at the Trans Tasman Tournament last month.

”The joint Qualification Event with Oceania is the first time in AIBA history and it would be a great experience for our athletes before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Asia had 62 qualified athletes in London four years ago and we are hoping to improve this number in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games demonstrating the continuous development of our continent” said ASBC President and AIBA Vice-President Mr. Serik Konakbayev

Hosts China will be looking to flyweight Hu Jianguan for inspiration, although Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee will also be pushing hard for a place. Butdee’s female teammates Peamwilai Laopeam and Tassamalee Thongjan also have great chances of qualification.

Australia’s excellent women’s team includes Commonwealth Games winner Shelley Watts and 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Caitlin Parker, while for the men, Daniel Lewis and Joseph Goodall also have the potential to qualify.

“This Olympic Qualification tournament will be a testing event for all boxers as every boxer in the tournament is a National Champion and some could very well be among the best in the world. I wish good luck to all Oceanian boxers and remind them, in all their endeavours, to always be true to yourself by doing as best as you can because then, in the future, you will have no regrets as to what might have been” added Ted Tanner, President of the Oceania Boxing Confederation.

WSB Season VI Newsletter – Week 9 Highlights

WSB Boxer of the Week 9 – Javier Ibanez (Cuba Domadores)

Cuban bantamweight Javier Ibanez’s impressive win over Turkiye Conquerors’ Nurettin Ovat in Week 9 of Season VI has earned the Domadores newcomer the latest WSB Boxer of the Week accolade. It was Ibanez’s first appearance for the team, deputising for Olympic champion Robeisy Ramirez, and the young debutant seized his opportunity brilliantly in Havana.

Born in 1996, Ibanez began boxing at the age of 10 under coach Humberto Orta Dominguez in the city of Matanzas. Taking gold at his first international tournament, the 2011 Balado Cup, the then light flyweight’s raw talent was evident and two years later, following training camps in Russia and Kazakhstan, the Cuban amassed a series of youth titles.

In 2014, Ibanez proved his ability beyond any doubt as he won both the AIBA Youth World and Youth Olympic titles, establishing his place on the global stage and earning the AIBA Boxer of the Year title in the process.

Acclimatising to life at the elite level with a series of competitions in Cuba throughout 2015, including victory in the Teofilo Stevenson cup in Havana, Ibanez was drafted in to the Cuba Domadores Season VI team for the first time to face Turkiye Conquerors in Week 9. The debutant started somewhat nervily in front of his home crowd, but by the second round had already found his rhythm, setting up a decisive third in which the Cuban’s attacks were unrelenting until the Turkish corner threw in the towel. It was an impressive opening statement from a future WSB star.

Team of the Week Week 9

China Dragons are week 9 team of the week after their superb performance against Group A leaders, Ukraine Otamans. High on confidence, the team delighted their home fans with a great 4-1 victory.

Punch of the Week Week 9

Meng Caicheng, from China Dragons, earned his first WSB win against Denys Pesotskyy from Ukraine Otamans. The Chinese light welterweight was awarded Punch of the Week 9 for the round 3 powerful punch he gave his 20 year old opponent.

WSB TV Magazine Week 9

As the play-off stage of the competition is fast approaching, qualification stakes are getting higher. Week 9 showed magnificent boxing action with the impressive Cuba Domadores 5-0 win over Türkiye Conquerors. China Dragons secured a 4-1 victory on home soil over Ukraine Otamans. Meanwhile, Russian Boxing Team achieved 4-1 victory for the second time over the Rafako Hussars Poland.