In previous editions of the AIBA Youth World Championships the USA team has struggled with Joseph Dawejko’s gold medal in 2008 their top result in recent times. Their current team however contains real potential future stars and for the first time in a while there are hopes for medals again in Sofia. The development program which US Boxing has implimented in recent years could soon be baring fruit and offer the country’s boxing teamwill be a new breath of life.
What: AIBA Youth World Championships
Where: Sofia, Bulgaria
When: 11-24 April, 2014
The Tension and the Drama:
United States of America could not take part in the AIBA Youth World Championships in Baku in 2010 due to the Icelandic Volcano eruption. Moreover, their boxers have not managed to repeat the kind of performances which they regularly attained prior the Millennium, but their current youth team is the best one in a number of years. The young athletes got some excellent results at international level but the biggest question hanging over them is whether they can convert this good run of form into solid medal chances in Sofia?
Ones to watch:
The best US Youth athlete Shakur Stevenson began his boxing career at the age of just 5 therefore his experience is one of the highest in the world in this age group. The US teenager took the gold medal at the AIBA Junior World Championships in Kiev last September and also won the AIBA Best Junior Boxer of the Year 2013 award. Since then he has also won the US Youth National Championships against serious rivals. The 17-year-old Flyweight category (52kg) boxer is certainly a gold medal contender in Sofia.
John Luna was silver medallist at the Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament in Russia in February which is the strongest Youth competition in Europe. He will probably be one of the biggest rivals of the top favourite for the Super Heavyweight class (+91 kg), which is Russia’s EUBC European Junior Champion Marat Kerimkhanov. USA boxing is famous for its strong punchers in this weight category and Luna is their new hope for a podium place. Youth National Champion Nico Hernandez (49 kg) is also a medal contender in the Sofia event.
London 2012 Olympic Champion Claressa Shields joined to the elite level this year and won’t be competing in Sofia but their female hopes are still solid. Newly crowned AMBC American Continental Youth Champions such as Caitlin Orosco (51kg) and Jajaira Gonzalez (60kg) are their female spearheads. Both young athletes claimed gold medals at the AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships in Albena last September and will be returning to Bulgaria to fight for a spot in the quota for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.
Fact of the tournament
United States will be bringing the maximum number of athletes to Sofia, which means their squad contains ten male and three strong female boxers including three AIBA Junior World Champions in their line-ups.
United States’ history in the event
The United States of America is famous for its young athletes but in spite of their strength in the Junior and Youth age group only Joseph Dawejko has been able to win a gold medal since AIBA changed the name of the age group from Cadet to Youth in 2008. Before that change the United States won the first ever gold medal in the history of the championships in Yokohama, Japan in 1979 when Robert Shannon won the Light Flyweight category (48kg). That inaugural event was also their best ever performance with the team winning four gold medals in Yokohama.