(BRIDGEPORT, CONN.) - The first-ever USA Boxing Olympic Invitational took place on Friday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., with several Olympians from the United States, China and Brazil facing off in one of the final competitions before the 2008 Olympics.
A national feature bout opened the competition with 2008 National Champion Luis Arias (Milwaukee, Wis.) taking on 2007 National Golden Gloves champion Shawn Porter (Stow, Ohio) in the opening bout of the evening's action. An injury to Porter prevented the two from boxing in the finals of the 2008 U.S. Future Stars National Championship but they both stepped through the ropes on Saturday night. It was Arias coming out with the victory, winning a 3-0 decision on paper scoring.
International action kicked off in the bantamweight division with 2007 U.S. Championships silver medalist David Clark (San Diego, Calif.) facing off with Brazil's Robensilon Vieria in the second bout of the event. Clark recorded his first international victory less than two weeks ago, winning a bout with Puerto Rico after a long streak of international losses. He kept his international winning streak going in his bout with Vieria, winning a unanimous 3-0 decision on paper scoring.
Chinese Olympian Silamu Hanati opened action for his team in the welterweight division, battling the United States' Jeremiah Wiggins (Norfolk, Va.) in the first major international contest for the American boxer. Hanati's experience advantage showed with the Chinese boxer claiming a 3-0 paper scoring decision over Wiggins.
In middleweight action, the United States' Cruse Stewart (Davenport, Iowa) took the ring for his first major international bout as well, challenging Brazil's Yamaguchi Florentino. The Brazilian fell just short of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games, dropping his definitive bout to U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada. Florentino enjoyed better luck again his second U.S. foe, winning a 3-0 paper decision over Stewart to record the first win for the Brazilian team.
In the first of two light heavyweight bouts, the United States team returned to the winning side with Siju Shabazz (Las Cruces, N.M.) recording a 2-1 paper scoring victory over Abdureheman Abulkimu of China. The event returned to computer scoring in the seventh bout of the event between Lionell Thompson (Buffalo, N.Y.) and 2008 Olympian Washington Silva of Brazil. The bout was low scoring through the first two rounds with the Brazilian holding a slim 2-1 lead after one. He doubled his lead as the bout moved into the final two minutes and although Thompson cut his lead in half, he dropped an 11-10 final decision.
United States light flyweight Olympian Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) opened the action for his Olympic teammates, facing off in a rematch with Brazil's Paulo Carvalho. Yanez won an early match-up at the Pan American Games by a 19-6 decision and enjoyed another easy night in Bridgeport. After a slow-paced first round ended in a 2-0 score, Yanez turned up the heat in the second. He caught the Brazilian with clean shots, giving Carvalho two standing eight counts en route to a 10-3 lead at the midway mark of the bout. Yanez pushed his lead to double digits in the third and enjoyed a 16-6 edge as the fourth round began. He went on to win a 20-10 decision to push his winning streak to two.
Bantamweight Olympian Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) stepped up to the featherweight division for one night, facing off with fellow Olympian Robson Conceicao of Brazil. The bout was Russell's first competition since the 2007 World Championships due to injury and he enjoyed his return. Russell dominated the bout from start to finish, holding Conceicao scoreless in the first round on his way to a 7-0 lead at thee end of one. He continued to press the action in the second, pushing his lead to a nine point margin. The points continued to flow in the third as Russell landing strong shots to the body, and he built a 20-5 lead after three. Russell was the aggressor in the fourth round as well and went on win a 27-8 final decision.
Lightweight Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) suffered the first loss for the U.S. Olympic Team in his contest with Brazilian Olympian Everton Lopes. Ali grabbed the early lead, holding a one-point edge after the first but Lopes pulled the bout to a 5-5 tie at the halfway point. Lopes claimed the lead in the third and went into the final round with an 11-8 advantage. Ali came on strong in the fourth, giving Lopes two standing eight counts, but couldn't overcome his deficit and dropped a 17-12 final decision.
Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) closed the night in devastating fashion, stopping Chinese Olympian Nijiati Yushan in the second round of their bout. Wilder took the early in the bout but Yushan pulled the contest to a 5-5 tie midway through. Yet Wilder made sure that it didn't go to points, landing a crushing left hook in the second round, dropping Yushan to the canvas and forcing the referee to stop the bout.