The Olympic Trials for Men’s Boxing champions didn’t get much time off for the holidays after winning the domestic qualifying event in December. The nine champions and 2016 Olympian Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) will all compete in the 2016 World Series of Boxing season as members of the USA Knockouts and Olympic year competition will begin on January 21 at the Miccosukee Sports & Entertainment Dome in Miami.
Light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas), bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.), middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), and heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) will all compete in the 2016 season opener in a showdown with the British Lionhearts. Hernandez and Awesome will both return to WSB competition after competing for the USA Knockouts in 2015.
The 2016 World Series of Boxing season opener will begin at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Miccosukee Sports & Entertainment Dome and admission will be free to the public. With potential Olympians on both the USA Knockouts and British Lionhearts rosters, the event promises great action and a Rio preview for all the fans in attendance.
Four of the British athletes traveling to south Florida are members of Great Britain’s podium squad, including two medalists from the European Championships. Light flyweight Harvey Horn (England) and light welterweight Pat McCormack (England) both won silver medals at the European Championships and they will take on Hernandez and Russell respectively in the WSB season opener. Stevenson, a former junior and youth world champion, will face Great Britain podium squad team member Peter McGrail (England) and his fellow former youth champion Conwell will also challenge a podium squad athlete in Tony Williamson (England). Awesome will close out the night in a bout with Lawrence Okolie (England).
The USA Knockouts will compete in Group B in the 2016 season, facing the Lionhearts, Morocco Atlas Lions, and Mexico Guerreros in home and away bouts over the next four months. Each WSB match will feature five bouts with half of the 10 men’s Olympic weight divisions being contested in every event. The athletes will compete in five, three-minute rounds with a 10-point must scoring system in World Series of Boxing action.
Flyweight Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.), lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.), welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.), light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) and super heavyweight Brandon Lynch (Albany, N.Y.) will compete in the second match of the season on February 5 in Miami.
The World Series of Boxing, which is entering its sixth season, is a global team competition where national teams go head-to-head in a league format. The 2016 season will be the first time that the U.S. Olympic Boxing team competes in World Series of Boxing action as members of the USA Knockouts. Their participation in the 2016 season will ensure their eligibility for the WSB/APB international qualifying event in May in Sofia, Bulgaria. Lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) earned his berth in the 2016 Olympic Games based upon his finish in the 2015 season of the World Series of Boxing.