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The USA Squad Learns Their Opening Round Opponents at the Americas Qualifier
by Julie Godsticker
March 11, 2016

(MAR 11)   The United States team and their fellow competitors learned their road to Olympic qualification on Friday at the Americas Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All of the American athletes successfully made weight on Friday night prior to the official tournament draw at the host hotel. More than 180 athletes from 33 nations in south, central and north America traveled to Buenos Aires for the Olympic qualifying event.

None of the U.S. team members will compete in opening night action but three American boxers will step in to the ring for Saturday's preliminary competition at the Ferial la Rural de Palermo in Buenos Aires. Light heavyweight Jonathan Esquivel (Anaheim, Calif.) and super heavyweight Marlo Moore (Hayward, Calif.) will compete in the early session, facing the Bahamas Israel Johnson and Canada's Aaron Huggins respectively. Lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) will take on Kimberly Gittens from Barbados in evening action.

Three more American boxers will compete in Sunday afternoon's preliminary competition. Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) will open the tournament in a bout with Colombia's Luis David Vargas while middleweight Charles Conwell (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) will battle Alejandro Mora of Uruguay. Heavyweight Cam F. Awesome (Lenexa, Kansas) will close the day's action from Team USA in a match with Davon Hamilton of the Bahamas.

On Monday, four U.S. athletes will compete in their first bouts. Welterweight Paul Kroll (Philadelphia, Pa.) will take on Hopkin Ebanks of the Cayman Islands in the afternoon session. Flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) and 2012 Olympic gold medalist middleweight Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) will box in Monday's evening competition. Fuchs will face the winner of an opening round match between Ecuador and Mexico and Shields will challenge Panama's Atheyna Byion in her first bout of the tournament. Pan American Games flyweight champion Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) will take on the Dominican Republic's Leonel De Los Santos in evening session as well.

Light flyweight Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) and light welterweight Gary Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) will be the final two U.S. boxers to compete in Argentina, opening action on Wednesday. Hernandez will face the winner of Venezuela and Costa Rica in the early session while Russell faces the victor of a bout between Costa Rica and Ecuador in evening competition.

The American team arrived in Buenos Aires on March 2 and spent their final week of training camp acclimating to their new time zone and surroundings in Argentina. All 12 Olympic Trials winners will compete in the continental qualifying event with 25 Olympic spots on the line in Buenos Aires in the 13 Olympic weight divisions.

Kroll, Conwell, Awesome and Moore will all need to place in the top three to secure their Olympic berths. The third place spot will be determined by a consolation bout on the same date as the championship matches.

Hernandez, Fuchs, Vargas, Stevenson, Russell, Shiels and Esquivel will all need to advance to the tournament finals and Mayer will need to win gold to earn their spots in the 2016 Olympic Games.

USA Boxing Women's National Team Head Coach Billy Walsh (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and coaches Joe Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kay Koroma (Burke, Va.), Benny Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Augie Sanchez (Las Vegas, Nev.) will guide the American team in Argentina.

The Americas Olympic Qualifier is the first of three qualifying opportunities for the men and two for the female athletes. The top four athletes in the Women's World Championships in May will also advance to the 2016 Olympic Games. The men will have two additional qualifying events in in June and potentially early July to determine the final male athletes competing in Brazil.

Lightweight Carlos Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) qualified for the 2016 Olympics based upon his finish in the 2015 World Series of Boxing season and does not need to compete in any qualifying events.

Watch the entire competition live by heading over to http://tycsports.com.

For full tournament brackets, click here.

Team USA's Opening Bouts
108 lbs: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas/USA vs. winner of Venezuela/Costa Rica on March 16
112 lbs/female: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas/USA vs winner of Ecuador/Mexico on March 14
114 lbs/male: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla./USA vs. Leonel De Los Santos, DOM on March 14
123 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA vs. Luis David Vargas, COL on March 13
132 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA vs. Kimberly Gittens, BAR on March 12
141 lbs/male: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md./USA vs. Costa Rica/Ecuador on March 16
152 lbs/male: Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa./USA vs. Hopkin Ebanks, CAY on March 14
165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA vs. Atheyna Byion, PAN on March 14
165 lbs/male: Charles Conwell, Cleveland Heights, Ohio/USA vs. Alejandro More, URU on March 13
178 lbs/male: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif./USA vs. Israel Johnson, BAH on March 12
201 lbs/male: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas/USA vs. Davon Hamilton, BAH on March 13
201+ lbs/male: Marlo Moore, Hayward, Calif./USA vs. Aaron Huggins, CAN, on March 12


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