American Olympic Qualification Event draws to a close as continent’s best boxers go for final quota places and gold medals
March 19th, 2016 / IBA
The AIBA American Olympic Qualification Event enters its final day in Buenos Aires on Saturday with two sessions of boxing that will shape Olympic dreams as well as crowning seven new champions. The women’s lightweight champion and both finalists at flyweight and middleweight will be guaranteed of their places in Rio, while the winners of the men’s lightweight, welterweight and super heavyweight box-offs will join the two finalists at each weight in August’s Olympic competition.
Canada’s Pan-American Games champion Mandy Bujold takes on Colombia’s in-form Ingrit Valencia in the first of Saturday’s women’s finals, with both boxers guaranteed of their places in Rio.
“Words can’t describe the way I’m feeling right now. I’ve worked so hard for this moment and now it’s real. I would have never been able to do this without the love and support of my family and friends, and I want to thank everyone who believed in me and supported me on this journey. My coach Adrian Teodorescu believed in me from day one and I couldn’t have done it without him. I have qualified but I came here to win the gold,” said Mandy Bujold ahead of her final.
United States’ Mikaela Mayer will then do battle with Mexico’s Victoria Torres in the lightweight final, with the winner taking both gold and the sole Olympic quota place, before American boxing icon Claressa Shields goes up against Canada’s double AIBA World Champion Ariane Fortin.
In the men’s competition, American sensation Shakur Stevenson will go for gold against Argentina’s Alberto Melian with both boxers already assured of their place in August’s Olympic bantamweight competition.
Honduran Teofimo Lopez will be looking to complete an amazing run with a win over Venezuela’s Luis Angel Cabrera in the lightweight final, with Argentina’s Ignacio Perrin and Canada’s David Gauthier going for the vital third quota place.
“I felt real good and comfortable in the ring, I knew what I had to do and am satisfied but I know I can do better. I know my flaws but that’s what makes me a better fighter. I’m happy that I reached the Olympic quota but I knew I was going to do it. I am still not tired so I hope I can now win the gold medal in Buenos Aires,” said Lopez ahead of his final.
A thrilling welterweight final is in prospect as Cuba’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Roniel Iglesias takes on Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre in a repeat of the 2015 Pan-American Games final. Maestre won in Toronto, and with both boxers guaranteed their places in Rio, they will be looking to dazzle in Buenos Aires, before Saturday’s action is rounded off with the super heavyweight final between Trinidad and Tobago’s Nigel Paul and Cuban legend Leinier Pero.