Puerto Rico's young prodigy, Panamerican Games bronze medallist, 17-year-old Jantony Ortiz continued his winning streak at the AIBA American Olympic Qualifying Event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after defeating Trinidad & Tobago's US based boxer Carlos Suarez in sensational style.
The Puerto Rican teenager led 9:1 after a sumptuous first round but he did not take his foot of the pedal in the latter stages as the Light Flyweight boxer continued at blistering pace to triumph by the impressive 23:4 scoreline. The virtuoso technician ensured his qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games and will be one to watch this summer.
Mexico's 18-year-old Panamerican Games winner Joselito Velasquez was the favourite coming into in his semi-final bout against Ecuador's Panamerican Champion Pedro Quipo. Both athletes had put in some excellent performance during the competition but unfortunately only one would have a shot at taking the gold medal in Rio. Quipo had a three point deficit coming into the second round but he proved yet again his pedigree at the level after turning the fight on its head to win 20:16, resulting in the fourth Olympic quota place for Ecuador.
Brazil's top Bantamweight Robinelson De Jesus Vieira and Mexico's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Oscar Rafael Valdez both competed at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and both will be in London as well. In a very even contest, it was former AIBA Youth World Champion Valdez who just edged to reach the final with a 9:8 victory.
Argentina's first London Olympian, 22-year-old Alberto Melian, and the Dominican Republic's William Encarnacion fought for passage to the gold medal contest and it was the hungrier Melian who came out on top with a clinical 16:8 defeat of his rival.
Cuba's former AIBA World Champion and Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Roniel Iglesias did the business in his fight with Colombia's experienced Cesar Andres Villarraga as he prevailed 14:7. The 23-year-old was delighted joining seven teammates to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games. The Cuban boxer will now be gunning for gold in Rio.
US National Olympic Trials winner and current National Champion Jamel Herring achieved the all-important quota place for the London 2012 but was intent on taking gold in the picturesque Brazilian city. His opponent in the semi-finals had other ideas however, Puerto Rico's 18-year-old Francisco Vargas, who has been a revelation at this tournament, was classy as he dominated the bout to progress to the Light Welterweight final with a composed 11:6 victory.
Newly crowned US National Champion Terrell Gausha, who regained his place in the national squad, not only secured the Olympic quota but advanced to the Middleweight final following his 15:10 defeat of Ecuador's new spearhead, 19-year-old Marlon Delgado.
Dominican Republic's powerful fighter Junior Castillo achieved a career highlight in Rio where he eliminated Cuba's Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Emilio Correa and Canada's top fighter, Brody Blair. 26-year-old Castillo moved into the final after injuring Venezuela's Jose Alexander Espinoza in the first round.
Argentina's South American Games bronze medallist Yamil Peralta fought Canada's 32-year-old multiple-National Champion Samir El-Mais for the Olympic quota in the Heavyweight class. The Argentinean boxer's skills were enough to outmanoeuvre his veteran Canadian rival and win 15:12. USA's top Heavyweight, AIBA World Championships quarter-finalist Michael Hunter, a member his national squad since 2006, had the experience to dictate proceedings against Ecuador's former Panamerican Champion Julio Castillo to win 14:8, achieving the eighth US Olympic quota for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Peralta and Hunter will battle it out in Saturday's final.
30-year-old Brazilian Juliao Henriques delighted the home crowd after a polished display saw him moved into the Flyweight final following his 14:10 win over Jose Meza from Ecuador, he will now meet Puerto Rico's Jeyvier Cintron who was dominant against Eddie Valenzuela from Guatemala and prevailed 12:6.
The Dominican Republic's 21-year-old Wellington Arias was made to work hard as Jose Ramirez put on a brave resistance throughout their Lightweight semi-final. Arias was the better mover and did enough in the last round to secure a deserved 13:10 victory against the 19-year-old American. To take the gold medal, Arias will have to battle it out with Puerto Rico's 18-year-old Felix Verdejo who put in a sublime performance against Colombian Eduar Marriaga, as some sensational combination punches saw him progress with a 21:7 win.
It was the Welterweights up next with first up the impressive 2008 AIBA Youth World Champion Oscar Molina from Mexico overcoming the challenge of Venezuela's 25-year-old Gabriel Maestre in hard-fought 12:9 victory. The Fleet-footed Mexican will now come up against home favourite 2008 Olympian Myke Ribeiro who delighted the crowds at the Maracanazinho after triumphing 12:4 against 23-year-old Ecuadorian Carlos Sanchez.
Yamaguchu Falcao ensured there would be a third Brazilian on Finals day after he dominated each of the three rounds he fought against Nicaragua's Osmar Bravo to win 18:9. The 23-year-old from Sao Paolo showcased some excellent skills throughout his bout and will now duel with the USA's 21-year-old Marcus Browne for the Light Heavyweight gold medal. Browne used his height to keep his opponent at bay as he scored the vital points against Ecuadorian Carlos Gongora to take a 12:8 victory.
Super Heavyweights brought the evening session of the semi-finals to a close. It was Canada's Simon Kean versus Ecuador's Perea Ytalo in the first battle. A very close first round saw the Canadian take a one point advantage coming into the second. After that the boxers could not be separated until 18-year-old Ytalo unleashed a furious punch that floored Kean. That KO ensured his battled it out with American Dominic Breazeale for a shot at the gold medal. The man from the USA had a two point deficit coming into the final round but boxed out of skin as a vast number of teammates cheered him on to take a sensational 15:12 victory which guarantees him an Olympic quota place.
Tomorrow marks the final day of this top-class tournament that will see 38 athletes achieve quota places for the London 2012 Olympic Games. With pride at stake and the opportunity to get gold medals, expect the boxers to hold nothing back as they seek ultimate glory in Rio.
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