(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – With two 2012 Olympic medalists leading the way, Team USA earned five gold medals at the 2014 Cheo Aponte tournament in Saturday night in Caguas, Puerto Rico. London bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) and Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) led the medal haul which included victories from female lightweight Melissa Parker (Fountain, Colo.), male light welterweight Abraham Nova (Albany, N.Y.) and male super heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas). Awesome defended his title from last year while welterweight Jose Alday (Odessa, Texas) won silver for the second straight year. Male lightweight Genaro Gamez (San Diego, Calif.) claimed silver as well following a controversial loss in the finals.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) competed in her first international bout in the elite division since her victory at the London Olympics. She faced off with 2011 Pan American Games silver medalist Yenebier Guillen of the Dominican Republic in the women’s middleweight final round bout. Shields made a triumphant return to the elite, international scene with a victory over Guillen to take another gold medal.
Shields’ Olympic teammate and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) opened the Cheo Aponte tournament with a second round TKO in Friday’s action to set up a final round match-up with Brazil’s Cleio Costa. The Brazilian boxer defeated Team USA’s Christina Cruz and Esparza was able to avenge her teammate’s loss with a unanimous decision win over Costa in the flyweight final on Saturday.
Defending champion Awesome was clearly comfortable in his Puerto Rican surroundings and he once again won gold with a win over Mayor Kieshno of the Bahamas in the super heavyweight championship bout.
Nova competed in three bouts en route to his light welterweight match-up with Guatemala’s Walter Duarte in the championship bout. He closed the tournament in impressive fashion, taking a second round TKO over Duarte.
Parker took on well-known Puerto Rican lightweight Kiria Tapia in her championship bout on Saturday night. She wasn’t deterred by the 2011 Pan American Games champion, winning a unanimous decision victory over Tapia to take gold.
Gamez also battled a Puerto Rican opponent in his championship bout, facing Jose Rosario in lightweight action. He dropped a contested split decision following three rounds of action with even the Puerto Rican fans sharing their displeasure with the judges.
Alday claimed silver for the second straight year, falling by split decision to Puerto Rico’s Niclaus Flaz in the welterweight finale.
In addition to the medals won on Saturday, female flyweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.), male flyweight Malik Jackson (Washington DC) and male light heavyweight Jasper McCargo (Oakland, Calif.) all claimed bronze medals.
USA Boxing International Teaching Coach Pedro Roque (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Luis Gamez (San Diego, Calif.) and Jerrick Jones (Albany, N.Y.) led the U.S. team in Puerto Rico with Dr. Lucien Parillo (Wallingford, Conn.) joining the squad as the Team Physician and David Zawacki (Reno, Nev.) serving as the AIBA official.
Saturday’s U.S. Results
112 lbs/female: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA dec. Clelia Costa, BRA, 3-0
132 lbs/male: Jose Rosario, PUR Genaro Gamez, San Diego, Calif./USA, 2-1
132 lbs/female: Melissa Parker, Fountain, Colo./USA dec. Kiria Tapia, PUR, 3-0
141 lbs/male: Abraham Nova, Albany, N.Y./USA won on TKO over Walter Duarte, GUA, TKO-2
152 lbs/male: Niclaus Flaz, PUR, dec. Jose Alday, Odessa, Texas/USA , 3-0
165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Yenebier Guillen, DOM, 3-0
201+ lbs/male: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas/USA dec. Mayor Kieshno, BAH, 3-0
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).