2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing Conclude in Lafayette
by Luke Santangelo, USA Boxing
The 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing wrapped up in Lafayette, La., as nine boxers stood alone atop their weight class, hoisting their belts, after six days of nonstop boxing at the CAJUNDOME in Lafayette, La.
Here are the nine champions crowned.
Jordan Fuentes's Cinderella Story is Complete
The Cinderella story of the Olympic Trials pulled off yet another upset. With a hard draw this tournament, Jordan Fuentes (Fresno, Calif.) defeated all the odds and made a name for himself as the 57 kg Olympic Trials champion. The confident young boxer out of Fresno was close to dominant during all his bouts this week. Coming into the finals, he won on several unanimous decisions and a 4-1 split decision.
During the finals, he had a more challenging opponent but started strong, making it tough for the number one seed, Steven Navarro (Los Angeles, Calif.), to bounce back from. Fuentes came out of the gates with a 5-0 round one, but Navarro was determined to make this fight close. The experienced boxer in Navarro has fought internationally and for Team USA in the past, but that didn't faze Fuentes.
"I had to switch up my style multiple times during this," Fuentes said on what it took to defeat his three-ranked opponents. "The two seed I had to stay boxing, number three seed I had to put pressure, and today I had to mix it up."
Fuentes took round two, 3-2, and went on to win a close 3-2 split decision. Fuentes completed his impressive Olympic Trials run, defeated the top three seeds in the tournament, and will now advance to Team USA Selection Camp in January and become Team USA's Jahmal Harvey (Oxon Hill, Md.) alternate.
Greer vs. Ibarra
The top-rank seed in 60 kg, Neida Ibarra (Tulsa, Okla.), looked to continue her domination as she went against Lisa Greer (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Greer, a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, made it difficult for Ibarra to come back, but Ibarra did all she could in the final round.
Ibarra took four of the five judges' scorecards, including a 10-8 score, but it wasn't enough as Greer's early lead could not be overtaken, as Greer took the 3-1 decision to advance to January's Team USA Selection Camp and be the alternate behind Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.), who qualified to next summer's Olympic Games at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games.
Crocklem vs. Lee Rematch
A rematch from this summer's 2023 USA Boxing Summer festival between Dedrick Crocklem (Tacoma, Wash.) and Vershaun Lee (Davenport, Iowa) was deemed to be just as exciting as their first encounter, as they battled through three rounds in the CAJUNDOME.
With a strong jump after the first bell, Lee took round one, 4-1, and looked determined to have a different outcome. However, Crocklem came out with fire and power in the second round and threw punch after punch to dominate Lee. Crocklem won that round, 5-0, and was one round away from winning the Olympic Trials. Crocklem, keeping the same mentality in third, wore down Lee and made it hard for Lee to respond.
Crocklem again took all five judges' scorecards in the final round and won unanimously. Crocklem won all three of his bouts by a unanimous decision, which led to holding the championship belt at the end of the week.
"This is a dream come true, and the opportunity just came to me," an excited Crocklem stated after his hard-fought win. "I am right back to focus and ready to go back to camp and solidify my spot for real."
Crocklem will head to selection Camp in January and looks to overtake Team USA High Performance boxer Emilio Garcia (Laredo, Texas) for his chance to compete at next year's Olympic qualifying tournaments.
One vs Two battle it out in a rematch for the Trial Belts
Two talented and experienced boxers boxed it out to try to stand alone and hoist the belt during the women's 66 kg finals. Stephanie Simon (Dania Beach, Fla.) and Stacia Suttles (Philadelphia, Pa.) met again in the finals, setting up a rematch of last year's National Championships finale.
Suttles, hoping for a better outcome this time, grabbed the early 4-1 lead after the first round. However, it was all Simon in the final two rounds.
The number one seed wore Suttles down in rounds two and three to take nine of the ten scorecards, leading to her 4-1 victory.
Simon will now head to January's High Performance Training Camp and serve as the alternate to Morelle McCane (Cleveland, Ohio).
Keon Davis and Carlos Flowers
In the 71 kg championship, Keon Davis (Houston, Texas) and Carlos Flowers (Dover, Del.) had one of the better bouts of the afternoon. Davis was in the blue corner, and Flowers was in the red. They went at it for three straight rounds.
Davis took the opening round, 5-0, before seeing Flowers respond with his own 5-0 round in the second, tying it up across the board heading into the final round.
David had the height and length advantage over Flowers, and it paid off for him in the end, as he won the found round, 4-1, to take the title by an overall 4-1 decision.
"Another step toward my goal of being a gold medalist," Davis stated after winning the Olympic Trials. "I am very happy for myself, put in the work, and am here ready."
Davis will now move on to go against Omari Jones (Orlando, Fla.) to determine who will represent Team USA at the World Qualifiers for next summer's Games.
Forkins dominates and looks ahead to get the gold.
Christine Forkins (Nashville, Tenn.) dominated the women's 75 kg championship bout over Talia Halvorsen (Harwood Heights, Ill.). Forkins won all judges' cards, 10-9 through all three rounds, taking home the belt, and will now look to dual it out with Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, N.C.) at the upcoming High Performance Selection Camp.
"As soon as I got in there, I knew I was going to win," Forkins stated after her bout. "It is an incredible feeling, and I am on top of the world right now."
Halvorsen, the youngest female boxer in the tournament, had a great run in her first elite tournament; however, she could not hold off Forkins.
Lugo vs. Bartee-El live up to the expectations
In an exciting championship match, Nathan Lugo (Marietta, Ga.), as the two-seed, faced off against the top seed in Obed Bartee-El (Colorado Springs, Colo.). The two powerful boxers met up to the expectations and produced a great fight to watch.
Lugo stuck with his mentality and game plan throughout the week, making it difficult for Bartee-El to bounce back after Lugo went up 5-0 after the opening round.
"I just did, and I was feeling it in the third round. It is just a rush full of emotions surging through my body," Lugo stated as he was crowned champion in the 80 kg weight class.
Lugo didn't let up and won the final two rounds to take the unanimous decision. He will head to the Team USA Selection Camp in January to go head-to-head against Robby Gonzalez (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Georges defeats Brown in the 92 kg Championship
Malachi Georges (Teaneck, N.J.) became the 92 kg Olympic Trials Champion after a week of staying focused and keeping his routine consistent.
Georges unanimously defeated Danel Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.), a familiar opponent. These two fought in the 2023 National Golden Gloves, where Goerges also took the victory.
Georges came out on top and said keeping his mind focused and listening to his coaches separated him from all his opponents.
"This is the cherry on top," Georges stated about his spirit and energy. "The hardest part is the training. Getting prepared is the hardest part. That is where I struggled. That is where the tears, blood, and not wanting to get up came from. I was excited about this; I almost couldn't sleep. I was like a happy puppy and couldn't wait to get in the ring."
Georges will now hope to overtake Jamar Talley (Camden, N.J.) in the Team USA Selection Camp this January for a place to compete at the World Qualifiers in March.
Feliz and Williams dual it out in the Super Heavyweights Championship
Ali Feliz (Bethel, Conn.) and Steven Williams (Chester, Pa.) punches echo throughout the CAJUNDOME as the two super heavyweights closed out the championship bouts.
Feliz took round one, 5-0, and used his speed and power to defeat Williams, who was entering the final following a knockout victory in the semifinals and looking to have a repeat against the reigning National Champion.
However, Feliz proved too much for his opponent, as he won unanimously to advance to the Team USA Selection Camp to serve as the alternate to Joshua Edwards (Houston, Texas), who qualified for next summer's Olympic Games at the Pan American Games.
Four semifinal bouts concluded the day, as they were recontested following timing issues during Friday's event.
Sheelyn Patricio (Waianae, Hawaii), Kayla Gomez (El Paso, Texas), Sierra Martinez (Fountain, Colo.), and Alex Espinoza (Garland, Texas) were victorious in their bouts to advance to their championship bouts, which will be scheduled to take place in Colorado Springs, Colo. at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center before the start of the Selection Camp.