Nearly 300 boxers with Olympic dreams are traveling to Spokane, Wash., for the 2015 USA Boxing National Championships, January 19-24. The deep list of pugilists includes three Olympians and four reigning or former World Champions all hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games. The Pathway to the Podium will once again run through Spokane with the 2015 edition of USA Boxing’s key national championship event serving as an Olympic Trials qualifier for the 10 men’s weight divisions and three women’s Olympic weight classes.
With such high stakes, the athlete entry numbers have increased significantly from last year and the talent level of the boxers matches the quantity of the tournament participants. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) once again headlines the list of competitors and she enters the 2015 event fresh off her first elite world title win in Korea. Fellow Olympic medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) won her first world championship in November as well and she will be competing for her ninth USA Boxing title in Spokane.
2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) will return to her home state for the fourth straight year to vie for her eighth USA Boxing national championship while 2012 World Champion and 2014 World Championships bronze medalist Tiara Brown (Fort Myers, Fla.) looks to defend her featherweight title.
In men’s action, multiple reigning national champions will compete for another USA Boxing national title alongside their younger counterparts making their elite division debuts in Spokane. Two-time national champions Jose Alday (Odessa, Texas) and LeShawn Rodriquez (Shirley, N.Y.) will chase the three-peat in 2015 while lightweight Genaro Gamez (San Diego, Calif.) and light welterweight Abraham Nova (Albany, N.Y.) will each look to defend their 2014 titles in Spokane. 2014 Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Games silver medalist Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) will make the move to the elite division next week with 2013 youth national champions Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.), Gilbert Renteria (Houston, Texas) and John Luna (Milwaukee, Wis.) all making the transition to the older age division as well.
USA Boxing’s elite women continue to enjoy success internationally and with the top two tournament finishers in the three women’s Olympic weight divisions earning Olympic Trials berths, the flyweight (112 lbs), lightweight (132 lbs) and middleweight (165 lbs) divisions are all very deep in talent. The always-competitive lightweight division will once again feature multiple decorated athletes, including 2012 World Championships bronze medalist and 2012 national champion Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.). She will make another run at the USA Boxing National Championships gold as will 2013 Youth National champion Rashida Ellis (Lynn, Mass.). 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials participant N’tyeeyah Sherman (Barberton, Ohio) will also grace the ring at Spokane in the first Olympic Trials qualifier.
The flyweight division is packed as well with multiple athletes gunning for the top spot in the country. Two-time USA Boxing National Championship silver medalist Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) is hoping that the third time is the charm for her in 2015 action. While Fuchs is returning to familiar territory, two former national champions will compete for another national title in a new weight division. Two-time light flyweight titlist Alex Love (Fort Carson, Colo.) will return to the Olympic flyweight division for the 2015 event and her U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate Melissa Parker (Fort Carson, Colo.) is moving down to the 112 pound weight class for a run at Rio. 2013 Youth National Champion Marisol Lopez (Stratford, Calif.) will vie for her first elite division title in Spokane as well.
The women’s middleweight division will also feature a slew of top competitors vying for the gold medal. Two U.S. Olympic Team Trials participants and USA Boxing national champions will challenge the reigning Olympic champion for the middleweight crown. 2012 National Champion and World Championships silver medalist Raquel Miller (San Francisco, Calif.) and former titlist Tika Hemingway (Breckinridge, Pa.) are each returning to the middleweight division for the 2015 tournament.