BOXING: Javier Molina Clinches an Olympic Berth While Christopher Downs and Michael Hunter Fall Short
(PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD)-Light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) earned his berth in the 2008 Olympic Games in Tuesday at the Americas Qualifier, defeating Canada's Kevin Bizier by a 20-5 margin. Light heavyweight Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) didn't enjoy the same luck, dropping a 10-3 decision to Brazil's Washington Silva in their semifinalist box-off at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He will join middleweight Shawn Estrada (E. Los Angeles, Calif.) at the second Americas Qualifier, April 23-30 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Lightweight Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) lost a hard-fought, 13-5 decision to 2005 World Champion Yordanias Ugas Hernadez of Cuba. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) super heavyweight Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) both dropped their championship bouts, losing to Cuba's Osmai Acosta Duarte and Robert Alfonso Acea respectively. Hunter will join Estrada and Downs in Guatemala. Molina came out boxing in his semifinalist box-off, using movement and a stiff jab to control his bout with Bizier. His efforts earned the 18-year-old a 4-0 lead at the end of the first round. Molina returned to his tactical game plan in the second, showcasing strong defense on his way to a 6-0 advantage at the end of two rounds. Yet Molina turned up the heat in the third, landing beautiful straight shots and punishing Bizier with hooks to the head and body. Molina's explosive offensive output pushed him out to a 16-3 edge with two minutes remaining in the contest. He closed the bout with strong defense and effective movement to win the 20-5 final decision."I was going to try to outbox him. I saw him box before and he just came forward and tried to pressure you and I could see that he was slow,"Molina said."He was really slow so I kept trying to feint him. At the beginning he wasn't throwing very much but after the second, he picked it up."Molina's win officially qualifies him for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China."It feels good, I went through a lot to qualify and I finally got it out of the way so now I'm going to train hard for the Olympics,"he said. Downs came out boxing in his bout with Silva as well; bouncing on his toes and flicking the jab in Silva's face. Yet he wasn't able to penetrate Silva's defense and trailed by a slim 2-1 lead after two minutes of boxing. Downs returned with a similar game plan in the second, but once again struggled to score and Silva moved out to a 4-1 lead at the halfway mark of the contest. He emerged from the corner in the third round in a more aggressive fashion, looking to dent Silva's lead. The bout quickly dissolved into a brawl with Downs falling further behind, and he faced a 9-2 deficit as the final round began. Downs stepped to Silva in the fourth round, stalking the Brazilian in order to chip away at Silva's lead, but he fell short and Silva won a 10-3 final decision. Ali boxed well from the start of his bout with Hernandez, looking to outwork the moving Cuban through all four rounds. The bout was a chess match early on with both boxers looking to establish their own rhythm and Hernandez holding a slim 1-0 lead after the first. Ali stepped up the heat in the second, looking to dictate the pace, but fell behind 5-2 at the midway point in the point. He continued to press the action over the final two rounds, bringing the bout to Hernandez, but dropped a 13-5 final decision."I went in there to send a message. I wanted him to know that USA is a country to look out for so when he's in China and he sees it on the bracket, he's not just going to breeze past me,"Ali said."He's going to think about strategy and what he has to do with me."Wilder struggled to get through the tight Cuban defense in his contest and trailed by a 3-0 margin after the first round. He looked to use his reach and establish his jab, but was unable to score effectively and lost a 12-1 decision to Acosta. Hunter had trouble scoring his contest with Acea as well, and could never fully get on track in his championship bout. He trailed by a 4-1 margin after the second round, and came out in the final half of the bout looking to step up his output. Yet he too struggled to penetrate the tight Cuban defense and faced a 6-1 deficit as the fourth round began. Hunter pressed the action throughout the final two minutes but couldn't dent Acea's lead and he dropped a 9-1 final decision. Ali, Molina, and Wilder all qualified Olympic berths at the Americas Qualifier. They join light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas), flyweight Rau'shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio), bantamweight Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) , featherweight Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) and welterweight Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) in clinching Olympic spots. The remaining three U.S. boxers will look to join their teammates at the final qualifier, April 23-30 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.