The American continent's first major preparation event for the upcoming AIBA American Olympic Qualifying Event has started with the preliminaries in Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic's bantamweight No.1 is Pan-American Youth Championships silver medallist, teenager Luis Salazar, who is the titleholder of this event and was put up against his younger compatriot, Pan-American Junior Champion 16-year-old Huascar Ramirez. Ramirez is part of the host nation's youth team. This was Ramirez' first elite level fight and the young hope fought hard, but Salazar reigned supreme in the end, as the more experienced fighter. The final verdict of the contest was 12:7 to Salazar, however Ramirez was able to showcase his excellent technique and went on to join the group of medal contenders at the next AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.
Just south of the Mexican border, the Guatemalans prepare to send out the Pan-American Championship bronze medallist, 24-year-old Joselito Aguirre, who took part in the AIBA Road to Baku Program last year and also fought at the AIBA World Boxing Championships. He showed proof of his extensive knowledge whilst fighting against Russia's Darman Kutubekov, managing to defeat his hard-hitting rival by a large margin of points, 27:10. Aguirre became the first ever Guatemalan boxer to win a fight against a Russian athlete, a rather astounding feat for an athlete from a small South-American country.
Mexico's top boxer of the moment, AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist, Oscar Valdez, who achieved a priceless silver medal at the Pan-American Games last October, continued his winning streak in Santiago de los Caballeros. Also a Beijing Olympian, the bantamweight star overwhelmed newcomer Fernando Duran of Honduras and advanced to the quarter-final stage of the tournament after winning the bout by a comfortable 25:3.
Staying with Mexico, their light welterweight No.1, Pan-American Championships silver medallist, Juan Pablo Romero, an experienced World Series of Boxing fighter, triumphed over Dominican Republic's young Roberto Lara by 23:14.
Further East, to the island of Puerto Rico, we find the current Pan-American Junior Champion, Jonathan Irrizary, who has yet to celebrate his 17th birthday. Despite his youth, he was skilled enough to secure his first ever victory in an elite competition against the Cayman Islands' Kendall Ebanks at the Independence Cup.
In the middleweight division, we watched the Dominican Republic's Pan-American Games Qualifier winner, Junior Castillo, fighting hard and bringing his Russian opponent to a daze on the opening day of the event. The 26-year-old local boxer was much too strong for Apti Ustarkhanov. Meanwhile, Mexican National Olympiad silver medallist, the sturdy Marcos Mendez, crushed Puerto Rico's Enrique Collazo by 8:6.
There was only one light heavyweight contest on the first competition day. This bout saw the Dominican Republic's Pan-American Championships bronze medallist, Felix Manuel Valera, who incidentally moved up a division last year, defeat yet another Russian fighter, Pavel Silyagin, by a very narrow 15:12, allowing him to advance to the next stage of the event.
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