Night 3 of 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing Filled with Surprises and Upsets
by Luke Santangelo, USA Boxing
The CAJUNDOME lights shined a little too bright Wednesday evening for some, as upsets highlighted the third day of boxing at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing in Lafayette, La. 28 men continued to pave their path to making their dreams come true of representing Team USA at next summer’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games as they advanced to the semifinals of their respective brackets.
Upset of the DayJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Wednesday evening was filled with adrenaline, emotions, and top seeds seeing their tournament run end. Entering the evening, only one top four-seeded boxer, male or female, fell in the opening round. However, last night saw eleven seeded boxers fall, including two one-seeds.
Tyler Yavalar (Sarasota, Fla.) defeated top seed Ben Turla (Kansas City, Mo.) via a 4-1 split decision. Yavalar, competing in his second bout of the week, capitalized on already having one match under his belt. Turla was debuting his Olympic Trials and needed to shake off ring rust.
“I know I belong here,” Yavalar stated when discussing competing in the Olympic Trials and pulling off the upset. “My first fight, I was looking around and said, man, I am fighting in a stadium. Where I come from, nobody is doing this.”
Yavalar will now face Danel Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.) in the semifinals at noon on Friday, Dec. 8.
The top four seeds set up exciting semifinal matchesJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Jordan Roach (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Ryan Williams (Toledo, Ohio), Terry Washington (San Bernardino, Calif.), and Alex Espinoza (Garland, Texas) all stayed alive to move on to the semifinals. Roach fell behind Marcellus Smith (Garfield Heights, Ohio) in the opening round; however, he bounced back in the second and third rounds to win the bout, 4-1.
Roach will face the fourth seed, Espinoza, who defeated Aaron Maximus Garcia. (Payson, Utah), unanimously.
Williams and Washington dominated in their bouts, as they both won by a unanimous decision. Williams proved too powerful for Eli Lankford (Colorado Springs, Colo.), while Washington left nothing on the table, hitting David Delgado (Woodland, Calif.) with multiple combinations to win every round.
The two will meet on Friday for a chance to compete in the finals.
Steven Navarro survives an impressive victoryJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Steven Navarro (Los Angeles, Calif.) came away with a statement victory over Zaquin Moses (Newark, N.J.) in the 57 kg division. With a hard matchup against the top-seeded Navarro, the bout drew in the crowd all over the CAJUNDOME. Navarro jumped out to an early 3-2 lead after the first round, but Moses responded with a 3-2 round win in the second round to set a winner-take-all third and final round. Navarro proved his experience was a little too much for Moses, as he won the final round, 4-1, to take the overall 4-1 decision to advance to the semifinals.
“This happened because of yesterday,” Navarro stated after his tough win over Moses. “It is about discipline and putting the work inside the gym and having good rest and your mind clear, and I had to have my mind clear. I had a tough opponent today, and I knew this could be a game changer and pulled off the win.”
Jordan Fuentes (Fresno, Calif.), shaping out to be a possible Cinderella story of these Trials, upset the two seed, Ramier Walker (Liverpool, N.Y.). Fuentes led the bout, 4-1, following the opening round, before Walker returned to take the second round, 3-2. The two battled it until the final bell, with Fuentes grabbing all five judges’ cards to advance, 4-1, to the semifinals.
Francis Stewart (Cleveland, Ohio) came out on top against Yoruba Moreu (Albuquerque, N.M.) via a 4-1 split decision. The semifinals are set, with Fuentes facing Stewart, while Navarro will take on Jamir Germany (Norfolk, Va.), who advanced by defeating four-seed Abraham Lozano Garcia (Concord, Calif.), 3-2.
Two and three-seed falls in quarterfinals in the 63.5 kg weight classJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Vershaun Lee (Davenport, Iowa) and Troy Nash (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took down the number two and three seed boxers of the 63.5 kg weight class last night to keep their Olympic chances alive.
Lee made an impressive return to the USA Boxing national stage after previously representing Team USA internationally, taking down the two seeds, Noah Timoteo (Waianae, Hawaii). Nash, just competing in his second elite tournament, defeated Lee’s 2021 World Championships teammate and Trials third-seed, Jonathan Mansour (Sandiego, Calif.), to set up a semifinal bout between Lee and Nash.
“I had a great fight against the number three seed, but I trained hard for this, so I knew what I came to do, and I’m here to win,” stated Nash. “Another one down and two more to go.”
The two boxers will go head-to-head in the semifinals on Friday at noon. Lee, with the experience, and Nash, having the fire and motivation to keep his dreams alive, will be a fight to pay close attention to.
The number one seed, Dedrick Crocklem (Tacoma, Wash.), took care of business in his opening bout to move to the semifinals, where he will face the fourth seed, Alejandro Alvarado (La Puente, Calif.). The two seeded boxers dominated their Wednesday night bouts as Crocklem won unanimously and Alvarado won 4-1.
71 kg weight class open as seeded boxers go downJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Three of the four seeds in the 71 kg bracket fell short of advancing to the next round, including Benjamin Johnson (Upper Marlboro, Md.), as Carlos Flowers (Dover, Del.) pulled off a big upset to advance to the semifinals. Johnson was the 2022 USA Boxing Youth National Champion and 2023 Youth Brandenburg Cup Champion, as well as took the title at the 2023
Elite National Qualifier.
The two USA representatives went head-to-head, with Johnson taking the opening round, 4-1. Knowing he had a challenging hill to climb, Flowers increased his punch count in the second round; however, Johnson still took the second round, 3-2. Flowers took the final round, and Johnson received two points for holding, resulting in Flowers' overall victory.
“I’m just ready. Number one seed down and two more to go,” an emotional Flowers said after his second-round upset over Johnson. “No one expected me to be out here, so I’m just doing it. I had to dig deep. He is a great fighter, and we have fought before, so I knew he would come aggressive, and I knew the only way to beat him was to come aggressive as well, and I had to bring the dog out.”
Joseph Almajdi (Forth Worth, Texas) and Dante Kirkman (Palo Alto, Calif.) pulled off their own upsets last night. Almajdi defeated the four seed, Kamakani Waialae (Waianae, Hawaii), and Kirkman defeated the two seed, Jason Moreno (Philadelphia, Pa.). Kirkman dominated the entire bout, as he won unanimously with a 10-8 score in the second round and gave Moreno an 8-count in the third round on his way to victory.
“I had to make sure I stuck hard with my jab. Time his jab and go with him and provide pressure because he got tired in the second round,” Kirkman stated after one of the bigger upsets this evening. “I put in the work, and it showed, and I am proud to have a chance to represent Team USA.”
Kirkman will now face Keon Davis (Houston, Texas), the third seed, who advanced to the finals unanimously over Jirair Thompson (Inkster, Mich.), while Almajdi will step into the ring with Flowers.
Nathan Lugo's combinations and strength move him on to the semifinalsJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
Nathan Lugo (Marietta, Ga.) won unanimously over Alexis Chaparro (Ridgewood, N.Y.). Lugo dominating in all fashions of the match was too much to handle for Chaparro and showed why he is the number two seed in the weight class and reigning USA Boxing National Champion.
Ethan Smith (Las Vegas, Nev) and Steven Colome (North Port, Fla.) grabbed unanimous decision victories over their respective opponents, setting up a Lugo versus Smith semifinal that will be on everyone’s radar.
Crane continues his run to GoldJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
The three-time Olympic Trials participant Derae Crane (Houston, Texas), continued his dream of gold. Crane defeated the two seed, Charles Pugh (East Cleveland, Ohio), on a 4-1 split decision to set up a semifinal bout against the three seed, Malachi Georges (Teaneck, N.J.), who advanced by a unanimous decision over Kyree Brown Zellner (Virginia Beach, Va.).
The other side of the bracket will see Yavalar look to build on his bracket-busting performance against Turla when he faces Danel Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.) for a spot in the championship bout.
Three ranked boxers come out on top and advance in super heavyweight divsionJacob Hammond x USA Boxing
The top three seeds in the super heavyweight bracket closed the night with wins to advance to the semifinals.
Ali Feliz’s (Bethel, Conn.) 4-1 victory over Jessie Jombo (Grand Prairie, Texas) solidified his place in tomorrow’s semifinal bout against Gilbert Kabamba (Boston, Mass.).
Steven Williams (Chester, Pa.) and Darnell Thompson (Mckinney, Texas) won their quarterfinal bouts to go head-to-head in two versus three semifinal matchups tomorrow.
Boxing at the Olympic Trials will continue tonight at 6:00 p.m. with the women's quarterfinal bouts. More tournament information can be found here.