The Central American & Caribbean Games is a huge multisport event which reserves a special place to boxing as one of the most popular sport in the region. Local organisers therefore decided to schedule qualification tournaments to select the best athletes for the Games. The first such qualification tournament was held in Tijuana, Mexico and saw the Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Dominicans shine in the preliminaries.

Bout of the day
AMBC American Youth Continental Champion Sparkinson Almonte will be celebrating his 19th birthday only later this year but he is Dominican Republic’s great prospect in boxing. He has only been allowed to compete at the elite level since January but nevertheless travelled to the qualification tournament as one of the favourite alongside Cuba’s AIBA World Champion Lazaro Alvarez. The Dominican teenager faced Trinidad & Tobago’s AMBC American Continental Championships bronze medallist 21-year-old Michael Alexander and their bout brought one of the best battles in the preliminaries. Almonte tried to keep control of the fight from the first round onwards while Alexander used his strong jabs to try to eliminate his younger rival. The final verdict unanimously declared Almonte as the winner and he will this now face Guatemala’s AIBA Road to Baku Program member Joselito Aguirre in the next round.

Team of the day
Puerto Rico is a top country in the Central American & Caribbean region and their boxers have lived a perfect day in Tijuana. Their newly-crowned National Champion – Bantamweight (56 kg) Joshuantony Ortiz -defeated Guatemala’s Independence Cup winner Juan Reyes. The young Puerto Rican boxer won all of the rounds against a strong opponent and certainly is a boxer who could cause many upsets in the future.

Puerto Rico’s top female boxer AMBC American Women’s Continental Championships gold medallist Kiria Tapia failed to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics but her hopes to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics look brighter. The Lightweight (60 kg) boxer eliminated Colombia’s South American Games winner Jennifer Caceres and advanced to the next stage of the qualification tournament.

Surprise of the day
The Costa Rican ladies boxers have grown well since the last Olympics and their Central American Games winner Wendy Aranda proved once again her outstanding skills against another top boxer, Guatemala’s multiple Central American Champion teenager Karen Perez – one of the biggest future hope of the Central American region. Aranda’s physical skills proved superior in the second part of the bout and she defeated her opponent by unanimous decision.

Boxers to watch
Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez became World Champion Baku in 2011 but since being unsuccessful at the London 2012 Olympics, the 23-year-old star moved up to the Lightweight class (60 kg) and claimed gold at the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Almaty. The Cuban boxer demonstrated a better ability than Honduras’ newcomer Jesus Salazar, but his opponent bravely fought until the final bell. Alvarez’ compatriot Ramon Luis eliminated Colombia’s AMBC American Continental Champion Jorge Vivas by split decision in the Middleweight class (75 kg).

Facts of the day
Bahamas and Barbados, amongst the smallest islands in the region both won at least one bout during the preliminaries in Tijuana. Bahamas’ had to build up a completely new team since the last Olympic Games but some of their new hopes already display a lot of talent.