The United States national anthem was the most popular tune of the day during 2014 Youth World Championships final round action at the Armeec Arena in Sofia, Bulgaria today. Team USA earned three gold medals in the premier youth event, the most of any nation competing in the global tournament. Male flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) and female lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) each made history, becoming the first U.S. boxers ever to win both junior and youth world titles. Team USA’s third world champion, super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.), won gold in his first World Championships with only two bouts of international experience prior to the event.
Stevenson, the 2013 AIBA Junior Male Boxer of the Year, opened the day’s action for Team USA in his typical winning fashion. He faced off with a well-known name in the boxing world, Muhammad Ali of Great Britain. The 16-year-old American endured three ugly rounds, but he simply would not be denied. Stevenson won the flyweight finale by unanimous decision over Ali to earn his second world title in the last eight months. The victory moves Stevenson’s international record to a perfect 14-0. Stevenson dominated his competition throughout the tournament, winning all six bouts by unanimous decision en route to gold.
Gonzalez has a spotless international record as well and she added yet another victory to her tally in Thursday’s lightweight championship bout. The 17-year-old California native scored a wide, unanimous decision over Turkey’s Esra Yildiz in her final bout of the tournament to become the first U.S. female ever to win junior and youth world titles. She has had quite a run through the international ranks over the past two years also, boasting a spotless 11-0 record in international competition.
Despite his lack of international experience, Rock made quite a name for himself at the 2014 Youth World Championships. The towering teenager won two stoppage victories on his way to the super heavyweight championship bout. Rock recorded second round TKOs in his preliminary and semifinal contests to earn a spot in the final round. Germany’s Peter Kadiru managed to make it to the third round, but Rock claimed the all important victory in super heavyweight final round bout. He earned a 2-1 decision over Kadiru to earn super heavyweight gold in his World Championships debut.
In addition to the three gold medals, female middleweight Martha Fabela (Oakland, Calif.) also took a bronze for the United States. Team USA’s four medals earned the squad the top spot in overall medal standings and the three gold medals are the most for the United States in any World Championship event since 1999.
Stevenson, Gonzalez and Rock will now gear up for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, August 16-28 in Nanjing, China. The event will feature women’s boxing for the first time with Gonzalez looking to continue her international winning streak with a historic gold medal.
Coaches Pedro Roque (Colorado Springs, Colo.), David Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.), and Willie Moses (Newark, N.J.) are leading the United States team at the international event in Bulgaria with Dr. Ralph Bohm (Dix Hills, N.Y.) serving as the team physician.
114 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA dec. Muhammad Ali, GBR, 3-0
132 lbs/female: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif./USA dec. Esra Yildiz, TUR, 3-0
201+ lbs/male: Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa./USA dec. Peter Kadiru, GER, 2-1
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).