The United States’ John Luna Claims a Semifinal Berth
(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Team USA super heavyweight John Luna (Milwaukee, Wis.) has clinched a medal in the first youth tournament of the year in Anapa, Russia. Luna, who celebrated his 18th birthday on the flight to Russia, is the lone U.S. competitor remaining in the Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial International Youth Tournament. Three U.S. boxers competed in quarterfinal round competition at the multi-nation tournament on Friday with light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) and bantamweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) both dropping their hotly-contested bouts at the Voley Grad Sports Complex in Anapa.
Luna was the final member of the United States team to take the ring in Russia, receiving a first round bye on Thursday. He faced off with host nation boxer Azamat Pilev of Russia in Friday’s action. The American boxer won every round on the judges’ scorecards to take a unanimous decision win over Pilev on his home soil and advance on to Saturday’s semifinal competition.
Hernandez and Balderas each opened 2014 international competition with victories on Thursday but didn’t get the nod in Friday’s action. Hernandez took the first win of the tournament for Team USA on Thursday with a victory over Belarus’ Yury Korotin in their first round match-up. He battled Georgia’s Gagik Pozoyan in a holding-filled contest, which more closely represented a wrestling match on Friday. Pozoyan was named the victor following three ugly rounds in Russia.
Bantamweight Balderas defeated host nation boxer Aytal Lyakonov of Russia in his tournament opener on Thursday before challenging Uzebekistan’s Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov today in Anapa. Balderas dropped his quarterfinal contest to Sharakhmatov in Anapa, eliminating him from tournament action.
Two U.S. boxers fell in Thursday’s first round competition. Super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) lost a very close bout to host nation boxer Gurgen Topuzyan of Russia in his first international bout and lightweight Isidro Ochoa (Fresno, Calif.) fell to Moldova’s Dorin Buksha.
Team USA arrived in Russia 10 days ago and has been preparing for the tournament alongside their foreign competitors. The United States squad has enjoyed the opportunity to train and spar with boxers from foreign nations, including Russia and Cuba, during their time in Anapa.
Andrews Soto (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Willie Moses (Newark, N.J.) are serving as the United States coaches in Russia.
Thursday U.S. Results
108 lbs: Gagik Pozoyan, GEO, dec. Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas/USA
123 lbs: Abdulkhay Sharakhmatov, UZB, dec. Carlos Balderas, Santa Maria, Calif./USA
201+ lbs: John Luna, Milwaukee, Wis./USA dec. Azamat Pilev, RUS
Wednesday U.S. Results
108 lbs: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas/USA dec. Yury Korotin, BLR
123 lbs: Carlos Balderas, Santa Maria, Calif./USA dec. Aytal Lyakonov, RUS
132 lbs: Dorin Buksha, MDA dec. Isidro Ochoa, Fresno, Calif./USA
201+ lbs: Gurgen Topuzyan, RUS, dec. Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa./USA