TEAM USA’s elite athletes put on an impressive performance tonight in a battle with southern neighbor Mexico at the Miccosukee Sports & Entertainment Dome in Miami on February 6. The USA Knockouts squad bounced back from a week one loss with a 4-1 victory over the Mexico Guerreros in World Series of Boxing action. Female flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) and lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) both won unanimous decision victories before the WSB action began in Miami.
“I think we did really well. It’s been a short time together with the men. The women were excellent, really really good. Some of the performances today were world class. We’re building towards being a world class team and trying to compete at a world class level,” said coach Billy Walsh. “I’m very happy with the performances tonight, it’s been a really great improvement over the last couple of weeks. I know in a month’s time we’ll be at an Olympic qualifier in Buenos Aires but today we’re in a good state for that quest.”
2016 Olympian Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) and 2015 Pan American Games silver medalist Lindolfo Delgado were chosen to close the night’s action in a lightweight division battle. The contest was a rematch from the 2015 Pan American Games where Delgado eliminated Balderas in preliminary action. Yet the second contest between the two talented boxers told a very different tale. Balderas came out on a mission, landing strong combinations and effective body shots throughout the bout. He sent Delgado to the canvas in the first and third rounds on his way to a unanimous decision victory and the fourth USA Knockouts win of the night. “I trained a lot harder and a lot smarter [than the last time.] I’d like to thank my family and my team for pushing me not just physically but mentally. The fight is won more mentally than physically,” Balderas said. “I want to thank everyone for supporting me and give a shout out to Santa Cruz for giving me great sparring. The styles are very different unlike in the United States where everyone is a little more planted.”
2015 Pan American Games champion Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) made his World Series of Boxing debut in a flyweight contest with the Mexico Guerreros’ Orlando Huitzil. The Florida resident put on a show for his home state fans, dominating the match from bell to bell. He showed the skills that earned him Pan American Games gold, peppering Huitzil with combinations from every angle and flooring him to the delight of the crowd. Vargas won the bout by a wide unanimous decision, taking all five rounds on every judges’ scorecard in a highly successful WSB opener. “It was an easy fight. I was having fun and out there doing my thing,” Vargas said. “I think it’s great preparation for Rio. It’s a little bit new with five rounds but overall it was a great experience.”
Light heavyweight Jonthan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) competed in his first WSB bout in a showdown with Pan American Games bronze medalist Rogelio Romero. Esquivel didn’t take long to get comfortable in his World Series of Boxing debut, dictating the pace and controlling his match throughout all five rounds. He extended the winning streak he started at the Olympic Trials, taking a 3-0 victory and sweeping every on the official scorecards. “I feel blessed to be on the WSB stage and blessed to represent the USA and I did it on my first fight,” said Esquivel. “This is definitely good preparation for Rio because we’re facing the top guys.”
Brandon Lynch (Albany, N.Y.) was the first USA Knockout to compete in Friday’s competition, taking on former USA Boxing National Championships medalist Elvis Garcia who’s now representing the Mexico Guerreros. Lynch claimed the first victory of the night for his USA Knockouts, winning a 3-0 victory in the super heavyweight contest. “It was the first time I went five rounds in a fight and it was pretty interesting. After the third round, it was like a new territory but I toughed it out,” Lynch said. “It’s my first international competition against Mexico. I’ve seen that guy fight before in the Olympic qualifiers and he was great then and he was great now. He’s a heavy hitter so thank God I was blocking those shots or I would’ve gotten knocked out if I didn’t. I’d like to say thanks to all the people that trained me in Colorado Springs, they’re expertise is world renown.”
Welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) suffered the lone loss of the night for the United States in a razor-close bout with the Mexico Guerreros’ Fernando Armenta. The two battled in a close contest over five rounds with each boxer enjoying their share of strong moments. At the end of the five rounds, Armenta was named the winner by split decision.
The two American women competing in Friday night’s action set a winning tone for their male counterparts in the two opening bouts at the Miccosukee Sports and Entertainment Dome. Fuchs faced off with Mexico’s top flyweight Sulem Urbina in the first match of the night on Friday. Fuchs entered the bout on quite a run having put on gold medal performances at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro. Fuchs continued her winning streak in her 2016 opener, claiming a unanimous decision victory over Urbina and giving Team USA their first win of the night. “It was really exciting being on a WSB card, it was a first for women. I was very happy with my performance,” Fuchs said. “I listened to my corner really well and I performed really well. It was really good practice for the qualifiers and I know I’m ready for it.”
Mayer’s competed in a lightweight match-up with 2015 Pan American Games bronze medalist Victoria Torres of Mexico in the battle of neighboring nations. The American lightweight utilized her boxing skills to outwit Torres over their four round bout. She notched victory two of the night with a 3-0 victory over Torres to send the men in to the ring with strong American momentum. “I think the bout went pretty good, I felt in control. She’s a pretty aggressive fighter and I had a few tangled up moments but for the most part I feel like I won every round,” Mayer said. “I’m hoping to fight on more WSB cards. I know they’re looking to put the women in so hopefully that’ll happen soon.”
Coaches Billy Walsh (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Israel Acosta (Milwaukee, Wis.), Kevin Greene (Ozark, Ala.), and Joe Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led the American squad in week two World Series of Boxing competition on Friday.
The USA Knockouts will return to action in an away match with the Morocco Atlas Lions on February 19 in Casablanca, Morocco.
114 lbs/male: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla./USA dec. Orlando Huitzil, Mexico, 3-0 (50-45), (50-44), (50-44)
132 lbs/male: Carlos Balderas, Santa Maria, Calif./USA dec. Lindolfo Delgado, 3-0 (49-46), 49-46), (49-46)
152 lbs/male: Fernando Armenta, Mexico, dec. Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa./USA. 2-1(48-47 x 2 for Armenta), (48-47 for Kroll)
178 lbs/male: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif./USA dec. Rogelio Romero, Mexico, 3-0 (50-45), (50-45), (50-45)
201+ lbs/male: Brandon Lynch, Albany, N.Y./USA dec. Elvis Garcia, Mexico, 3-0 (49-46), (49-46), (48-47)
112 lbs/female: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas/USA dec. Sulem Urbina, Mexico, 3-0
132 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA dec. Victoria Torres, Mexico, 3-0