The 2016 USA Olympics Boxing Trials for Men concluded Sunday, all 10 Olympic boxing weight divisions representing the USA in the next set of Olympics qualifying in place. The Reno Events Center (Reno, Nevada) had 5 spots won Saturday evening with 4 box-offs needed Sunday to complete the process. The 132 lbs. (lightweight) division slot was secured by Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, California), who won his Olympic berth via his World Series of Boxing season finish that earned him the direct path to the 2016 Olympics Boxing Tournament held next August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Balderas does not have to compete in any international qualifiers.
Should Balderas be unable to compete for any reason Teofimo Lopez (Davie, Florida) will fill that spot after Lopez went undefeated in lightweight competition. In what was labeled a ‘non-Olympics Trials’ Finals bout, Lopez defeated Maliek Montgomery (Macon, Georgia) 2-1. Saturday evening’s contests were streamed LIVE at liveextra.nbc.com with 2004 USA Olympic light heavyweight gold medalist Andre Ward, offering color commentary.
Colorado’s ‘last man standing’, DeRae Crane (Colorado Springs), gave a valiant effort before losing by unanimous decision to Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) for the 2016 USA Olympic Team Trials heavyweight title. Crane conducted himself admirably throughout a tough week of boxing that saw him pitted against the #1, #2 and #3 seeded heavyweights in the double elimination tournament. The Crane vs Awesome contest on Saturday night was the second encounter of the two last week and Awesome left no doubt he is totally focused on becoming a 2016 USA Olympic Boxing medalist in Rio next August.
Saturday 2016 USA Olympics Team Trials Finals Results:
108 lbs: Leroy Davila (Princeton, New Jersey) over Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), 3-0.
114 lbs: Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Florida) over Brent Venegas (Sacramento, California), 3-0.
123 lbs: Shakur Stevenson (Newark, New Jersey) over Ruben Villa (Salinas, California), 3-0.
141 lbs: Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Maryland) over Jaron Ennis (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 3-0.
152 lbs: Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) over Ardreal Holmes (Flint, Michigan), 3-0.
165 lbs: Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) over Leshawn Rodriquez (Medford, New York), 3-0.
178 lbs: Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, California) over Elvis Figueroa (New Haven, Connecticut), 3-0.
201 lbs: Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) over DaRae Crane (Colorado Springs, Colorado), 3-0.
201+ lbs: Marlo Moore (Hayward, California) over Brandon Lynch (Albany, New York), 3-0.
Sunday Box-off Results: 108 lbs: Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) over Leroy Davila (Princeton, New Jersey), 2-1. 114 lbs: Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Florida) over Brent Venegas (Sacramento, California), 2-1. 141 lbs: Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Maryland) over Jaron Ennis (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 3-0. 152 lbs: Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) over Ardreal Holmes (Flint, Michigan) 3-0.
2016 USA Men Olympic Boxing Team members:
108 lbs: Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas)
114 lbs: Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Florida)
123 lbs: Shakur Stevenson (Newark, New Jersey)
141 lbs: Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Maryland)
152 lbs: Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
165 lbs: Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio)
178 lbs: Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, California)
201 lbs: Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas)
201+ lbs: Marlo Moore (Hayward, California)
The rules governing ‘Olympic Style Boxing’ are mandated by AIBA and their President, Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu but causing major controversy is the Carlos Balderas ‘situation’. AIBA fully disclosed there would be slots allocated WSB (World Series of Boxing) and APB (AIBA Pro Boxing) participating members through their qualification process that fact apparently unknown by the majority of USA Boxing membership. Many are now in an uproar over that situation arising but the real issue in America is the use/non-use of headgear. Varying medical opinions regarding the use/non-use of headgear in Elite boxing competition has been the source of controversy over the last 3 years leading up to Olympic Trials competition. To their credit, AIBA has been totally transparent with their intentions and after considering the opinions of numerous medical exploratory committee’s worldwide, the decision was made to ‘conduct all Elite advancing tournaments WITHOUT the use of headgear’. In these United States, PAL (Police Athletic League), GOLDEN GLOVES and RINGSIDE leadership balked, their tournaments then declared ‘non-advancing tournaments’. That AIBA decision deprived many of the best amateur boxer’s in this country the chance to qualify in one of these tournaments, as had been done in previous years.
The United States does not offer financial support for their Olympic Athletes and as with most things, the issue has become political. Without the financial support afforded our male boxing athletes (the USOC supports the women’s program but not the men) by AIBA, there would be little adequate boxing preparation and/or training for the USA Boxing membership as a whole. This has forced USA Boxing leadership to (temporarily) join in with the rest of the world and follow the rules mandated by AIBA or find the financial means to be self-supporting and start their own USA Amateur Boxing Program that will not have AIBA dictating how they conduct their business. Our USOC (United States Olympic Committee) seems on board with what AIBA dictates, USOC President Scott Blackmun apparently siding with Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu in deciding what path Olympic boxing competition should travel. Blackmun made the decision to drop USA Boxing (men) funding after years of threatening such drastic action for continued financial violations.
The 2016 Olympics Games will be held next August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the USA Olympics Men’s Boxing Team is fighting a far more imposing figure than their boxing counterparts. The WSB and APB having already secured slots for their season winning competitors (this all transparent through AIBA communications) means the 9 members of the USA Olympics Men’s Boxing Team will be pitted against competitors who have consistently been involved in hard fought, international tournament competition over the last 3 years. That observation alone can be seen as putting the 2016 USA Olympics Men’s Boxing Team at a distinct disadvantage.
The decision to break away from AIBA may seem an easy one until you consider what most feel, there being a negatitive backlash from the boxing community worldwide, the majority unconcerned with the United States competing in Olympics Boxing competition. Add in the highly probable selection of Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu as the next IOC (International Olympic Committee) President and the picture becomes just a wee bit clearer. Unless USOC President Scott Blackmun can be convinced to rethink his funding position regarding the USA Boxing men’s program, they are caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’. Whatever road USA Boxing chooses to follow it won’t be easy since not only are the majority of USA Boxing membership fed up, but the majority of American amateur boxing fans are fed up with not seeing an American medal in boxing at the Olympic Games since 2004. By this time next year (2016) the wheels will be in motion either way.