(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – For the United States’ best junior and youth boxers, the past two weeks haven’t exactly been a holiday. Young boxers across the country have been zeroed in on their preparation for the 2014 Junior and Youth Open, January 5-11 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev. USA Boxing’s first national tournament of 2014 will feature athletes ages 15-18 in the second edition of the newly created event. Over 260 athletes are registered to compete in the tournament, which will give the young boxers a chance to represent USA Boxing in international action.
The inaugural edition of the event in 2013 only included junior division athletes (15-16-year-olds), but the youth division (17-18-year-olds) has been added for the 2014 tournament with several of the 2013 competitors moving in to the older age group for this year’s event.
Tournament action will begin with preliminary bouts at 5 p.m. on Monday, January 6 following the morning’s general weigh in and tournament draw. Preliminary competition will continue with two sessions at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 7 and run through Thursday, January 9. Semifinal round action will take place in two sessions at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., on Friday, January 10 prior to Saturday’s championship bouts, which will begin at 5 p.m. All of the tournament sessions will take place in the Grand Sierra Resort’s Reno ballroom.
There are numerous decorated athletes among the competitors converging on Reno for the national tournament. The list includes several reigning champions from 2013 back to defend their titles as well as 2013 Junior and Youth National Championships’ titlists looking to win their first Junior and Youth Open.
Reigning AIBA Male Boxer of the Year Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) is returning to where it all began for the 2014 Junior and Youth Open. The 2013 World Champion won the light bantamweight division in the 2013 event before claiming numerous international titles and Junior Olympic National Championships gold. The 16-year-old is the first U.S. boxer ever to win the major international award, which honored him as the best junior boxer in the world.
Yet Stevenson isn’t the only reigning world champion competing in Reno. Two female junior world titlists are vying for their second straight Junior Open gold medals in Nevada as well. Pinweight Caitlin Orosco (Anaheim, Calif.) and featherweight JaJaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) both took gold in the 2013 event to kick off a banner year for USA Boxing’s junior women’s program. The pair joined four fellow champions in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the first-ever junior girls training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center as well as competing in the inaugural Women’s Junior and Youth World Championships. In addition to the gold medal victories from Orosco and Gonzalez, Iesha Kenney (Alexandria, Va.) and Marisol Lopez (Stratford, Calif.) each took bronze medals in the historic World Championship event. Both Lopez and Kenney will look to defend their national championship wins from 2013 in Reno.
The 2014 Junior and Youth Open competitors will arrive in Reno this weekend for event registration on Sunday before kicking off tournament competition on Monday. Event registration will continue through Sunday and a current list of athletes will be released on Friday, January 3.
USA Boxing’s junior and youth programs are critical to the organization’s developmental pipeline and have consistently produced Olympians and World Champions, including the United States’ last two Olympic gold medalists Andre Ward (2004) and Claressa Shields (2012).