The AIBA Olympic Qualifying Event Rio de Janeiro 2012 came to a close today as 38 boxers achieved those career defining Olympic quota places. Ecuador came away from Brazil with seven quotas whilst the USA took six. It was a quality day of boxing as the curtain was drawn on a sensational tournament that showcased some of the best talent around.
Puerto Rico's Panamerican Games bronze medallist, 17-year-old Jantony Ortiz, who was world-class during the whole competition, faced Ecuador's former Panamerican Champion Pedro Quipo for the Light Flyweight gold medal. The super talented Puerto Rican teenager won the contest 10:8 in measured fashion and his victory ensured Carlos Suarez of Trinidad & Tobago's took home an Olympic quota place from Rio.
Brazil's former Panamerican Champion, veteran Juliao Henriques Neto, battled Puerto Rico's Jeyver Cintron, the youngest competitor in the tournament, in the Flyweight final. Puerto Rico teenager Cintron continued his country's great tradition at this weight after triumphing at the Maracanazinho. Cintron led 9:5 after the first round and although Neto mounted a stirling fightback, the young boxer used his footwork to great effect to win the title.
Mexico's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist and AIBA Youth World Champion Oscar Rafael Valdez got back to winning ways in Rio after some unexpected losses. His final opponent in the Bantamweight class was Argentina's Alberto Melian, who had competed in every major tournament in this Olympic era. Orthodox Valdez was quicker in the first round to storm to a 10:3 lead and from there, there was no looking back as he claimed the gold medal in style.
Puerto Rico's ultra-talented Panamerican Youth Champion Felix Verdejo fought Dominican Republic's Lightweight No.1 Wellington Arias in the final. 18-year-old Verdejo solid defence and quick counter-punching saw him take a 13:7 victory over the southpaw.
Cuba's former AIBA World Champion and Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Roniel Iglesias became the only boxer from the Caribbean nation in Rio to join his seven compatriots in qualifying for the Olympic Games. The Light Welterweight had too much in his arsenal against Puerto Rico's 18-year-old Francisco Vargas. The virtuoso Cuban won their contest 12:7, resulting in Ecuador's Anderson Rojas getting the quota place for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Brazil's Myke Carvalho, who competed in both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games, can now prepare for his third appearance at the Olympiad after overcoming the challenge of his opponent in the Welterweight final, Mexico's second London Olympian, former AIBA Youth World Champion, Oscar Molina. The home crowd favourite had a three point advantage after the first round and he maintained this margin until the final gong, resulting in the first gold medal for the host nation in Rio. With five remaining quota places in the Welterweight class, Canada's Custio Clayton secured passage to London 2012.
Current US National Champion, 22-year-old Terrell Gausha, who competed at the 2009 AIBA World Championships in Milan, and regained his place in the national squad, outpointed the Dominican Republic's tough southpaw fighter Junior Castillo to become the first US boxer to be crowned champion at this event.
Brazilian WSB star Yamaguchi Florentino Falcao almost secured the Olympic quota at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 but having narrowly missed out; he ensured he would be at the Olympic Games this year after progressing to the final. For the Light Heavyweight gold he battled US National Olympic Trials winner Marcus Browne. It was the American who prevailed to give his nation a second gold medal.
Multiple US National Champion and AIBA Junior World Championships bronze medallist Michael Hunter put in a strong performance in the Heavyweight final to achieve a third US gold medal after defeating Argentina's 21-year-old Yamil Peralta 12:10 despite of the South American dominating the final round. Hunter's final victory meaning Panamerican Champion Julio Castillo joined his six Ecuadorian teammates in achieving quota places for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Ecuador's Panamerican Games winner, 19-year-old Italo Perea, who knocked out Canada's Simon Kean in the semi-finals, fought current US National Champion Dominic Breazale for the Super Heavyweight gold medal. Perea was competing still at 81kg at the Youth Olympic Games two years ago but has developed into a fearsome fighter since then. The Ecuadorian boxer had a one point deficit coming into the second round but once again demonstrated why he is so highly rated at this level as he outboxed his taller opponent in the latter stages to win 14:10.
Including the quotas form the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011, the United States are now ranked as the top American nation with nine quota places for the London 2012 Olympic Games, whilst Cuba secured eight, with Brazil and Ecuador taking seven.
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