The AIBA American Olympic Qualification Event drew to a close in Buenos Aires on Saturday, with fourteen bouts across two sessions confirming at least thirteen nations from the continent will be represented at Rio 2016 with just one AOB qualification event left before August’s Olympic Games.
The last two sessions of competition saw finals and third-place box-offs from the women’s flyweight, lightweight and middleweight boxers, along with the men’s bantamweight, lightweight, welterweight and super heavyweights.
With two quota places available at women’s flyweight, Canada’s Mandy Bujold and Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia had qualification guaranteed before their bout, but it didn’t stop them putting on a superb display of boxing as Bujold pushed on to take the gold.
“It was challenging for me to pump myself up after all the emotion of qualifying in the semi-finals, but I felt very relaxed going into the bout so I really wanted to take the opportunity to keep my focus and make an impression in my weight division. I have fought Ingrid three times before and she’s a very game opponent and continues to improve, which in turns makes me push myself to be very creative in the ring. I knew I had to take away her right hook which is her best counter-punch, and I was able to do that with my jab and my footwork. Overall, it was a great match and I was happy with the end result,” said 28-year-old Mandy Bujold after her brilliant tournament.
With only one Olympic place available at lightweight, the final between United States’ Mikaela Mayer and Mexico’s Victoria Torres assumed even greater importance, and having eliminated her biggest rival Caroline Veyre in the quarter-finals, the American took a deserved gold to book her place in Rio.
United States’ defending Olympic Champion and AIBA Women’s World Champion Claressa Shields had made sure of her chance to defend that Olympic title by reaching the final, but crowned a strong week by taking gold against fellow qualifier and two-time AIBA Women’s World Champion, Canada’s Ariane Fortin.
In the men’s bantamweight competition, US sensation Shakur Stevenson had already made sure of his place in Rio along with fellow finalist Alberto Melian of Argentina, but it was Stevenson who impressed most by taking gold and establishing himself as one to watch in Rio de Janeiro.
At lightweight, home favourite Ignacio Perrin took the crucial box-off quota place before Venezuela’s WSB star Luis Angel Cabrera beat Honduras’ Teofimo Lopez in the gold medal bout, with all three boxers qualifying. Another Argentine, Alberto Palmetta, came through his tense box-off to qualify at welterweight along with Cuba’s defending Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias and Venezuelan Gabriel Maestre, with the Cuban taking gold.
Trinidad and Tobago’s new star Nigel Paul had his brilliant run in Buenos Aires finally halted by Cuban Leinier Pero, but not before guaranteeing his Olympic place. The third spot went to Virgin Islands’ Clayton Laurent after he emphatically won the box-off by knocking out Argentina’s Kevin Nicolas in the first round.
List of winners in the AIBA American Olympic Qualification Event
Women’s 51 kg: Mandy Bujold, Canada
Women’s 60 kg: Mikaela Mayer, United States
Women’s 75 kg: Claressa Shields, United States
Men’s 49 kg: Yuberjen Martinez, Colombia
Men’s 52 kg: Fernando Martinez, Argentina
Men’s 56 kg: Shakur Stevenson, United States
Men’s 60 kg: Luis Angel Cabrera, Venezuela
Men’s 64 kg: Arthur Biyarslanov, Canada
Men’s 69 kg: Roniel Iglesias, Cuba
Men’s 75 kg: Charles Conwell, United States
Men’s 81 kg: Carlos Andres Mina, Ecuador
Men’s 91 kg: Erislandy Savon, Cuba
Men’s +91 kg: Leinier Pero, Cuba
Check out all the results here.