(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Team USA opened competition at the SportAccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg, Russia on Sunday with two American boxers competing in first round action. Light welterweight Nicholas Jefferson (Tacoma, Wash.) boxed in men’s division competition while middleweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) kicked off tournament action for the women.
Jefferson battled Bulgaria’s Ivo Jordanov in his first international bout at the Yubileiny Sports Complex in the afternoon session. The American made his international debut a successful one, pulling out a 2-1 decision over Jordanov in their light welterweight contest. He will compete in semifinal action on Tuesday afternoon, facing off with Ukraine’s Aleksandr Grechiha for a spot in the championship bout.
Crews, an international veteran, didn’t enjoy the same winning outcome in her first bout of the tournament. She took on China’s Qian Li in the final bout of Sunday’s preliminary action in St. Petersburg. Li won a 2-0 decision over Crews in the middleweight contest with the third judge scoring the preliminary bout a draw.
Seven more U.S. boxers will compete in World Combat Games semifinal competition on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The male competitors will box in afternoon action with light flyweight Leopaldo Martinez (Laredo, Texas) facing Russia’s Valentin Chebochakoy; bantamweight Stephen Fulton, Jr. (Philadelphia, Pa.) battling 2007 World Champion Sergiy Vodopyanov of Russia; lightweight Cresencio Ramos (San Antonio, Texas) taking on Kyrgyzstan’s Adlilet Bekeev, and welterweight Tony Losey (Wichita, Kansas) challenging Azerbaijan’s Elnur Suleymanov. Heavyweight Joshua Temple (St. Louis, Mo.) will close early session action for the United States squad in a bout with Ukraine’s Arseniy Azizov.
2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) will look to add to another international win to her total when she faces off with Bulgaria’s Styoka Petrova in women’s flyweight competition. Her Olympic teammate Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) will battle fellow Olympian Natasha Jonas of England in her semifinal contest on Tuesday evening.
The World Combat Games is a multi-sport event featuring over 1300 boxers competing in 15 different disciplines. The event promotes the values of self-control, determination and technical mastery, integrating elements of culture, wisdom and friendship to create an elite sports competition in the art of combat.
Bienvendio “Benny” Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Andrews Soto (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Daniel Soto (Kissimmee, Fla.) are serving as the United States coaches in Russia with Dr. Kenneth Kurt (Franksville, Wis.) joining the squad as the Team Physician.
141 lbs/male: Nicholas Jefferson, Tacoma, Wash./USA dec. Ivo Jordanov, BUL, 2-1
165 lbs/female: Qian Li, CHN, dec. Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md./USA, 2-0