(PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD)-Light heavyweight Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) defeated the first Cuban at the Americas Olympic Qualifier, knocking off Julio de la Cruz Peraza. Downs enjoyed a convincing win, defeating Peraza by a 16-5 margin to earn a berth in the semifinal round. The victory is Downs' second victory of the Americas Olympic Qualifier following a second round stoppage in Thursday's action. Downs grabbed the first lead and never relinquished it, controlling the bout from start to finish. He utilized his height and reach to dictate the pace of the bout and held a 3-0 lead after one round. Yet it was the second round that changed the contest. Downs out-boxed the awkward Peraza, landing strong right hands, which knocked Peraza backward. The Cuban boxer began to grab and hold the charging Downs, causing the referee to take a point in the second. Yet his tactics didn't work, Downs continued to pour on the points and enjoyed a commanding 12-0 lead at the halfway mark."It was all about staying patient, staying disciplined and executing the game plan,"Downs said."It worked well the first two rounds, I tweaked my angle in the third round so I was just trying to finish strong and I got a little sloppy. I have to credit the first two rounds to listening to the corner."The pace slowed in the third with Downs looking to protect his lead as well as his ankle, and he went into the fourth round with a seven point lead. He managed to hold on through the final two minutes of action to claim the 15-6 victory and a win over amateur boxing powerhouse, Cuba."It wasn't easy for me because I'm such an emotional boxer. I like to mix it up; I don't like for it to be boring. I feel like if I'm not making contact then I'm not getting points so the toughest thing for me was just staying disciplined; staying within the game plan and not to make it a fight,"he said."It worked well for me tonight."The victory puts Downs only one win away from qualifying a berth in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He will face Venezuela's Luis Gonzalez in semifinal action on Monday, March 17. Five U.S. boxers will take the ring in Saturday's action with lightweight Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) facing Jesus Cuadro of Venezuela, light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) battling Barbados' Matthew Robinson, middleweight Shawn Estrada (E. Los Angeles, Calif.) taking on Trinidad's Andrew Fermin, heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) challenging Jorge Quinonez Tenorio of Ecuador, and super heavyweight Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) closing the day with a contest with Oscar Rivas Torres of Colombia. Christopher Downs Quotes
"The corner was telling me to D-up his right hand because he wasn't as strong as most of the 178s I come against. The corner told me to D-up the right hand and throw the right hand at the same and it worked. I got an early lead; he became desperate in the third and fourth round and made it easy for me. So I mostly went on defense and tried to pick my shots, which was basically the right hand. I really beat him with just the right hand tonight. I took his right hand and used my own right hand and that's what pulled me through.""You always want to box the guys who beat you. You always want a second chance to measure yourself to see how you've improved. He was a new boxer; a young boxer coming out of Cuba. I didn't know any of his credentials. It's always good to beat a power house like Cuba, but it's even sweeter to beat a well known boxer from Cuba. My goal here isn't one country or the next; it's strictly to qualify.