(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Three American world champions will compete for a gold medal at the prestigious Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China following semifinal victories in today’s action at the International Expo Centre. Male flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.), female lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) and male super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) each won their semifinal bouts on Sunday to earn berths in the Youth Olympic Games finals. All three entered the event as the tournament favorites following gold medals at the Youth World Championships/Youth Olympic Games qualifier in April and they’ve lived up to their promise to this point.
Gonzalez, a 2013 Junior World Champion, received a first bye but she stepped right in to the fire in her first bout of the tournament on Sunday. Her tournament opener featured a women’s lightweight semifinal match-up with 2013 Youth World Champion Agnes Alexiusson of Sweden. It was the second battle between the two talented boxers with Gonzalez’s first victory over Alexiusson at the qualifying tournament being viewed as an upset by many in the international boxing community. Gonzalez proved that the first win hadn’t been a fluke, defeating Alexiusson by a 2-0 margin to advance to the finals at her third straight global event. The 17-year-old southern California native is the result of a true boxing family with her father and older brothers training her and supporting all of her efforts in the ring. Gonzalez will look to make them proud when she battles Ireland’s Ciara Ginty in Tuesday’s women’s finals.
Stevenson continued his international winning streak as well in a men’s flyweight rematch. He took on 2014 Youth World Championships silver medalist Muhammad Ali of Great Britain for a spot in the flyweight finale. The two young boxers first met in the final round contest at the Youth World Championships with Stevenson taking a unanimous decision. Ali made it clear in multiple media outlets that he had a different game plan for the second bout and he would emerge victorious in the rematch. Stevenson clearly had other plans, winning every round on all three judges’ scorecards for the second straight day. The American phenom took a 3-0 decision over Ali to advance to the flyweight championship bout where he will take on another familiar opponent. Stevenson will face a hostile crowd in his championship bout match-up with China’s LY Ping on Wednesday, August 27 at the International Expo Centre. He won a unanimous decision over Ping in their first meeting in the semifinal round at the Youth World Championships.
While his teammates punched their tickets for the finals in afternoon action, Rock had to wait until the final bout of the day to compete for his own championship berth. He took on Russia’s Marat Kerimkhanov in super heavyweight competition after a walkover win in his opening bout. Kerimkhanov defeated Rock’s U.S. teammate, John Luna, in a youth competition in Russia earlier this year and Rock made sure to avenge Luna’s loss when it counted. His closed today’s action with a 2-1 decision over Kerimkhanov to join Gonzalez and Stevenson in the final round. Rock has been one of the bigger surprises for the United States team in 2014, enjoying international success without the experience that many of his teammates have. The soft-spoken giant is known for his thundering punching power and that could be a factor in his super heavyweight final with Germany’s Peter Kadiru on Wednesday. Kadiru showed off heavy hands of his own in a TKO win in Sunday’s semifinal action. The super heavyweight showdown will be a rematch from the final round of the Youth World Championships, which Rock won by split decision.
The NBC Sports Network plans to show highlights from the women’s finals at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 26 and the men’s finals at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 27.
Female middleweight Martha Fabela (Oakland, Calif.) will box for the fifth place spot in a consolation bout with France’s Davina Michel at approximately 3:15 p.m. local time (3:15 a.m. ET) on Monday.
All of the Youth Olympic Games action is being streamed live and archived at www.olympic.tv. Simply select the boxing window to watch the action live or click on the magnifying class icon on the left side of the screen and type in the name of the boxer you are looking to watch to view an archived bout. 2014 Youth Olympic Games action can also be viewed on a tablet or smart phone by downloading the free Olympic TV app.
U.S. Youth Olympic Games Semifinal Results
114 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA dec. Muhammad Ali, Great Britain, 3-0
132 lbs/male: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif./USA dec. Agnes Alexiusson, Sweden, 2-0
201+ lbs/male: Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa./USA dec. Marat Kerimkhanov, Russia, 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).