(SPOKANE, WASH.) – The 2015 USA Boxing Elite National Championships relocated on Friday, moving from the HUB Sports Center to Northern Quest Resort and Casino’s Pend Oreile Pavilion for two sessions of semifinal round competition.
The top two finishers in the three Olympic weight divisions from this week’s national championships clinched the first berths in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing and the intensity of the semifinal round reflected the importance of the bouts. 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and newly crowned world champion Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) grabbed the first spot of the Olympic Trials with a dominating 3-0 victory over former featherweight champion Melissa Parker (Fort Carson, Colo.) in the opening bout of the evening session. Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) claimed the second spot with a 3-0 win of her own over two-time light flyweight titlist Alex Love (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Esparza and Fuchs will battle for USA Boxing National Championships gold for the third straight year on Saturday night.
Two 2012 Olympic Trials participants will make a return visit in 2016 following lightweight semifinal action. Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) snagged the first spot with a 3-0 win over Carmen Vargas (Houston, Texas) in their semifinal showdown. The 2012 World Championships medalist will face Lisa Porter (Van Nuys, Calif.) in the lightweight title bout on Saturday.
A long awaited rematch from the finals of the 2012 Olympic Trials took place in the first women’s middleweight bout of the day. 2012 Olympic gold medalist and reigning world champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) took on former national champion Tika Hemingway (Breckenridge, Pa.) for the first Olympic Trials berth in the middleweight division. Hemingway, who is coming back off a long layoff, showed very little ring rust in the highly anticipated match-up. She looked to make the Olympic champion uncomfortable and smother Shields’ shots in their semifinal match-up. Despite Hemingway’s strong start, Shields didn’t get flustered and stay focused on her game plan, particularly late in the bout. After four rounds of closely-contested action, the bout went to the scorecards and Shields took the decision on a split decision tiebreaker. She will challenge another familiar opponent, 2012 World Championships welterweight silver medalist Raquel Miller (San Diego, Calif.) in the finals. Miller clinched her Olympic Trials berth with a unanimous decision victory over Naomi Grahm (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Two 2013 youth national champions squared off in flyweight semifinal action on Friday at the Pend Oreile Pavilion. Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Gilbert Renteria (Houston, Texas) competed in an intense affair in the first elite division tournament for both boxers. Vargas closed the bout in impressive fashion on his way to a unanimous decision win. He will take on Khalid Twaiti (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for his first elite division gold medal on Saturday night.
Maliek Montgomery (Macon, Ga.) and Hector Tanajara (San Antonio, Texas) faced off in a battle of 2014 National Golden Gloves and National PAL champions in the lightweight division. Tanajara boxed his way to a split decision victory and a spot in the lightweight finale with reigning champion Genaro Gamez (San Diego, Calif.).
In super heavyweight action, 2014 Youth World Champion Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) stepped up his competition level from his tournament opener to battle 2014 USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist Elvis Garcia (Tacoma, Wash.). Garcia gave Rock a much tougher test in their semifinal match-up but Rock pulled out the win by split decision to advance to final round competition.
In the day’s early action, bantamweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.) once again earned a final round berth following a first round TKO due to injury in her semifinal bout with Rory Santos (Jber, Alaska). She will take on Jennifer Chieng (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in final round competition on Saturday afternoon.
2012 World Champion Tiara Brown (Fort Myers, Fla.) saw her first action of the 2015 USA Boxing Elite National Championships following a walkover win in Thursday’s quarterfinals. She battled Indeya Smith (Grand Prairie, Texas) in the semifinal round, utilizing her significant height advantage to win a unanimous decision. Brown will take on Ashleigh Moore (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) for the featherweight title in championship round action on Saturday.
The men’s light welterweight division featured an action-packed bout between Luis Feliciano (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Rahim Gonzales (Sylmar, Calif.) in the second semifinal match-up. Gonzales got off to a strong start but Feliciano stole the momentum late in the fight, giving Gonzales a standing eight count. He moved one step closer to his second straight Olympic Trials with a 3-0 decision over Gonzales. He will battle Eduardo Garcia (Houston, Texas) in the championship bout.
The welterweight championship bout will feature a match-up between two-time elite national champion Danyelle Wolf (San Diego, Calif.) and 2013 youth titlist Samantha Kinchen (Lexington, Ky.) following semifinal victories by both former gold medalists. Wolf took a unanimous decision over Catarina Lentini (Bethlehem, Pa.) while Kinchen defeated Melissa Kelly (Everett, Mass.) by the same margin.
Two-time men’s middleweight champion Leshawn Rodriquez (Medford, N.Y.) once again advanced to the tournament finale with a unanimous decision win over Christopher Thompson (Flint, Mich.). He will face 2014 welterweight silver medalist Chordelle Booker (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the middleweight finale on Saturday afternoon.
Hometown hero Patrick Ferguson (Spokane, Wash.) continued his improbable run through the tournament in the final bout of the early session with Kato Montgomery (Garfield Heights, Ohio). Montgomery grabbed the early momentum but Ferguson didn’t get discouraged and continued to press forward. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the bout, he won a TKO victory over Montgomery to earn a final round berth along with Vardan Khatachatran (Los Angeles, Calif.).
Final round compeitition will be contested in two sessions at noon and 6 p.m. at the Pend Oreile Pavilion. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.northernquest.com.
Friday’s Semifinal Results
112 lbs/female: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas dec. Melissa Parker, Fort Carson, Colo., 3-0
112 lbs/female: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas, dec. Alex Love, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
114 lbs/male: Khalid Twaiti, Brooklyn, N.Y., dec. Luis Delgado, San Antonio, Texas, 2-1
114 lbs/male: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla., dec. Gilbert Renteria, Houston, Texas, 3-0
132 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Carmen Vargas, Houston, Texas, 3-0
132 lbs/female: Lisa Porter, Van Nuys, Calif., dec. Mioshia Wagoner, Lawrence, Kansas, 2-1
132 lbs/male: Hector Tanajara, San Antonio, Texas dec. Maliek Montgomery, Macon, Ga., 2-1
132 lbs/male: Genaro Gamez, San Diego, Calif., dec. Jamaine Ortiz-Rodriguez, Worcester, Mass., 3-0
141 lbs/female: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash., dec. Rashida Ellis, Lynn, Mass., 2-1
141 lbs/female: Nakarri Jones, Tampa, Fla., dec. Nisa Rodriguez, Bronx, N.Y., 2-1
152 lbs/male: Ardreal Holmes, Flint, Mich., dec. John Williams, Baton Rouge, La., 3-0
152 lbs/male: VeShawn Owens, St. Louis Park, Minn., dec. Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa., 3-0
165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec. Tika Hemingway, Breckenridge, Pa., 2-1
165 lbs/female: Raquel Miller, San Francisco, Calif., dec. Naomi Graham, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
178 lbs/male: Edward Ortiz, San Antonio, Texas dec. Niko Valdes, Miami, Fla., 3-0
178 lbs/male: Julio Perez Campusano, Roxbury, Mass., won on technical knockout over Tory Williams, Mandeville, La., TKO-1
201+ lbs/male: Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa., dec. Elvis Garcia, Tacoma, Wash., 2-1
201+ lbs/male: Marlo Moore, Hayward, Calif., dec. Alante Green, Garfield, Ohio, 3-0
106 lbs/female: Maureeca Lambert, Glen Ellyn, Ill., dec. Felicia O’Brien, Sudbury, Mass., TKO-3
106 lbs/female: Brittany Delgado, Center Moriches, N.Y., dec. Arlene Villalobos, Whittier, Calif., 3-0
108 lbs/male: Melik Elliston, Denver, Colo., won on TKO over Adrian Ghisoiu, Junction City, Kansas, TKO-3
108 lbs/male: Pablo Ramirez, Weslaco, Texas dec. Shurretta Metcalf, Dallas, Texas, 3-0
119 lbs/female: Jennifer Chieng, Brooklyn, N.Y., dec. Shurretta Metcalf, Dallas, Texas, 2-1
119 lbs/female: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., won on TKO over Rory Santos, Jber, Ak., TKOI-1
123 lbs/male: Rudy Garcia, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Anthony Chavez, San Bernadino, Calif., 2-1
123 lbs/male: Christopher Colbert, Brooklyn, N.Y., dec. Michael Angeletti, Spring, Texas, 3-0
125 lbs/female: Ashleigh Moore, Buzzards Bay, Mass., dec. Leesa Daniel, Austin, Texas, 2-1
125 lbs/female: Tiara Brown, Hyattsville, Md., dec. Indeya Smith, Grand Prairie, Texas, 3-0
141 lbs/male: Eduardo Garcia, Houston, Texas dec. David Mijares, Pasadena, Calif., 2-1
141 lbs/male: Luis Feliciano, Milwaukee, Wis., dec. Rahim Gonzales, Sylmar, Calif., 3-0
152 lbs/female: Samantha Kinchen, Lexington, Ky., dec. Melissa Kelly, Everett, Wash., 3-0
152 lbs/female: Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, Calif., dec. Catarina Lentini, Bethlehem, Pa.,
165 lbs/male: Leshawn Rodriguez, Medford, N.Y., dec. Christopher Thompson, Flint, Mich., 3-0
165 lbs/male: Chordelle Booker, Brooklyn, N.Y., dec. Randy Foster, Covington, Ga., 3-0
178 lbs/female: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., won on TKO over Joy Rotstein, Brooklyn, N.Y., TKO-1
201 lbs/male: Vardan Khachatrian, Los Angeles, Calif., won on TKO over Ryan Watson, Duluth, Minn., TKO-1
201 lbs/male: Patrick Ferguson, Spokane, Wash., won on TKO over Kato Montgomery, Garfield Heights, Ohio, TKO-3
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).