The American Boxing Confederation (AMBC) recently chose its best women’s and men’s athletes of 2014 during their Executive Committee Meeting in Venezuela.
Panama’s AIBA Women’s World Champion Atheyna Bylon and Cuba’s WSB Team Champion and Central American & Caribbean Games winner Erislandy Savon received the awards following the decision of the Executive Committee of AMBC.
Best Women’s Athlete – Atheyna Bylon (PAN)
Bylon began 2014 in the Dominican Republic when the local federation hosted the prestigious Independence Cup, and she defeated three athletes including Brazil’s top Middleweight class (75 kg) boxer Flavia Figueiredo to secure the gold medal.
She then arrived to the South American Games in Santiago de Chile as a gold medal contender in spite of her low number of international bouts, and Panama’s national pride defeated Argentina’s Lourdes Alonso and Venezuela’s experienced Francelis Carmona before losing to Flavia Figueiredo in a hectic gold medal bout.
Following that silver medal, she bagged another important podium place in Tijuana, Mexico where she qualified for the Central American & Caribbean Games.
Following two triumphs at the Middleweight class (75 kg) she was beaten by her old rival, Dominican Republic’s Yenebier Guillen in narrow bout where the judges had a difficult job to decide the winner.
Bylon then became involved in the ‘AIBA Road to Jeju Program’ which gave an opportunity for low-boxing-income nations to send athletes to the AIBA Women’s World Championships, and to ensure that the participants could raise their technical and tactical skills before the event in a joint training camp.
The Program was a great success for Bylon establishing an improvement on stamina and strength, and her improvements saw her and her coaches decide together that her chances in Jeju would be better at the Welterweight class (69 kg).
Despite her excellent preparation at the Road to Jeju Program, she entered the eighth edition of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Jeju, Korea with little expectation.
After all, no previous boxer from her country had ever won a bout in an AIBA women’s competition, let alone won a medal.
Additionally, no women’s boxer who had taken part in an AIBA development program had ever won a gold medal in a worldwide competition.
The chances were widely against Bylon, but she defied all of the odds to secure one of the most unexpected gold medals in the history of any boxing competition.
Bylon defeated all five of her tough rivals in the Championships, writing history with each victory, all of which were accomplished with superb boxing skill and tremendous heart.
Her style is based on her excellent physicality teamed with dynamic footwork and quick counter-attacks, all of which were evident in Jeju.
Best Men’s Athlete – Erislandy Savon Cotilla (CUB)
Erislandy Savon, the nephew of Cuba’s legendary three-time Olympic Champion Felix Savon received the 2014 Best AMBC Men’s Boxer of the Year.
Savon joined the youth national team in 2008 and won the gold medal at the first AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.
His superb performance in a spectacular final against Kazakhstan’s strong Ivan Dychko excellently displayed his world class potential.
The Cuban qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games where he met with eventual winner Anthony Joshua who defeated him in an extremely narrow and entertaining battle in the first preliminary round of the boxing tournament.
After that result, Savon moved down to the Heavyweight class (91 kg) and began to fully realise his boxing potential.
In the fourth instalment of the World Series of Boxing, the Cuba Domadores made their debut in the competition, and Savon was an integral part of the team which won the season after losing just one match throughout the entire campaign.
The Guantanamo-based boxer won the individual rankings of the Heavyweight class (91 kg) in Season IV after defeating all of his seven rivals including Azerbaijan Baku Fires’ Abdulkadir Abdullayev in the Team Final of WSB.
After his tremendous form in the competition, Savon was named as the Best WSB Boxer of the year at the 2014 AIBA Annual Awards Ceremony.
Savon later qualified for the Central American & Caribbean Games which took place in Veracruz, Mexico and he knocked down Venezuela’s AIBA World Boxing Championships competitor and WSB fighter Alfonso Flores in the final of the Heavyweight class (91 kg) en route to the gold medal.