(RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL) – Boxing competition moved into quarterfinal action on Sunday at the Pan American Games and three American boxers recorded victories to advance to the semifinal round. Light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas), welterweight Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) and light heavyweight Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) all earned wins in Sunday’s action..
Yanez has dreamt about avenging a loss to Cuba’s Yampier Hernandez since February, and on Sunday, he accomplished his mission. Yanez won an 11-8 decision over Hernandez to earn a berth in semifinal action18-year-old Yanez opened the action for his U.S. team, facing off in a rematch with Hernandez. The score remained low in the first round with Hernandez taking a slim 2-1 lead after the first. Yanez pulled the bout to a tie early in the second, but after the referee took a point from the American for putting his head down, Hernandez enjoyed a 5-3 lead at the end of the orund. The third round told a similar tale with Yanez pulling the bout to a six-all tie midway through before the referee took a second point for the same offense. Yet Yanez refused to back down, landing two scoring blows later in the round to send the bout into the fourth deadlocked at eight. Yanez controlled the final round of action, taking a 9-8 lead early in the round and holding Hernandez scoreless through all two minutes. He pushed his lead to 11-8 in the final minute and held on to win by the same final margin.
“I feel good, going into the first round, I was just trying to feel him out, but I picked it up in the second through last rounds,” Yanez said. “I was down the second and third round, but I picked up my pace a little bit. I saw that I was winning so I kept boxing, I kept moving around and using my reach. This was one of my goals and I achieved it. My second goal is to win that gold.”
Yanez’s victory avenges an 11-10 loss to Hernandez at the first Pan American Games qualifier in February. He earned the 11-8 victory despite the four point swing caused by the referee’s warnings.
“The referee affected me, I feel like I wasn’t putting my head down. I felt like I was just trying to slip a punch and he kept pushing my head down, but I feel good about it,” Yanez said. “The thought of getting disqualified was there in the fourth round, but I was more focused on the bout than I was on that. My teammates told me ten seconds left, and I tried to move and I did and I came out a winner.”
Andrade took the ring for the second time at the Pan American Games, battling Jean Prada Pasedo (Venezuela) in quarterfinal action. Andrade controlled the bout from the opening bell, piling on the points en route to a 9-1 lead after the first round. He kept his foot on the gas in the second round, landing crisp combinations while evading Pasedo’s shots. Andrade doubled his point total in the second stanza, moving out to an 18-3 lead at the midway point. Knowing he needed only five more points to win the mandatory stoppage, Andrade started the third round on fire. Just over a minute into the third round, Andrade took a 24-4 lead to earn the stoppage victory at the :54 mark of the round.
“It was good, I boxed well, I stuck the game plan and used the jab, a straight left to the body and I kept following it with the hook. When I hit him with the hook to the body, I hurt him so I just tried to stay inside and hit him with shots to the body,” Andrade said. “I kept focused, my dad, my other coach, David Keith, and my corner, Coaches Dan Campbell and Israel Acosta, told me what to do and I stuck to it.”
Andrade will battle Argentina’s Diego Chaves in the semifinal round on Tuesday.
Downs stepped into the ring as Andrade exited hoping to notch another win to the U.S. total, and he was successful in his quarterfinal contest with Brazil’s own Washington Silva. A loud, raucous Brazilian crowd supported Silva throughout the four round bout, but Downs overcame the hostile crowd to record the victory. He started the bout tentatively and was held scoreless in the first round with Silva holding a slim 1-0 lead after one. Downs picked up his output and began to relax in the second round, taking the lead for the first time in the bout. He held a 3-1 lead at the midway point, but Silva came on strong in the third, pulling the bout to a 5-5 tie as the final round began. The American regained the lead early in the fourth round, and never relinquished it. He held a three-point advantage in the final minute, but a late Downs flurry led to a standing eight count for Silva and a 12-5 Downs victory.
“It was great, I can’t say enough about this Brazilian crowd. They’re really passionate about their athletes, you’ve got to love it. You have to love the challenge that you have to persevere through. I was a little nervous and a little jittery in the first round, I didn’t start to relax until the end of the second or well into the third round. He was a puncher and was looking for one good shot,” Downs said. “I want to thank all the coaches who helped me get ready for this competition. My cardio, legs and strength were all there for me and it was just a good victory for the USA. The game plan was just to box, to keep moving and keep him turning, which took me a little bit out of my offense. I was basically on the defensive the whole time, looking to score points on the open shots, and make him pay when he missed. It was a great experience and I’m glad to be here.”
Downs will face Cuba’s Yuciel Napoles in semifinal action on Tuesday. “I’m ready for Cuba. I’m in tip-top shape and I’m bringing the A game,” he said.
A second Dallas boxer didn’t enjoy the same luck in his bantamweight quarterfinal contest. Roberto Marroquin (Dallas, Texas) made his Pan American Games debut in a match-up with Claudio Marrero (Dominican Republic). In a second straight bout, the scoring was infrequent in the opening round and Marrero emerged with a slim 3-2 lead. Marroquin pulled the bout to a 3-3 tie early in the round, but couldn’t pull ahead and Marrero held a 6-5 edge at the midway point of the bout. Despite constant holding by his Dominican opponent, Marroquin began to find the mark in the third round but he faced an 11-7 deficit as the final two minutes began. He came charging out in the fourth round, looking to chip away at Marrero’s land and he landed some strong shots early in the round. The bout was stopped frequently with Marrero being called for numerous infractions, and Marroquin kept pressing the action in an effort to overcome his deficit, but he fell short. Marrero went on to win a 14-11 final decision, eliminating Marroquin from the tournament.
Four U.S. boxers will compete in quarterfinal action on Monday. 2003 Pan American Games team member Karl Dargan (Philadelphia, Pa.) will make his first appearance at the 2007 event, taking on Carlos Hernandez of El Salvador in light welterweight action. Heavyweight Adam Willett (Bell Port, N.Y.) and super heavyweight Mike Wilson (Central Point, Ore.) will be making their Pan American Games debut on Monday, taking on Jose Julio Payares (Venezuela) and Didier Bence (Canada) respectively. Wilson will be facing Bence for the second time after dropping a 13-10 decision to him in the finals of the second Pan Am qualifier in March. Featherweight Luis Del Valle (Newburgh, N.Y.) will take the ring for the second time at the Pan American Games when he battles fellow Puerto Rico native Abner Cotto Roman (Puerto Rico). Del Valle will be looking to avenge a loss to Cotto Roman following a 20-11 defeat at the first Pan American qualifier in February.