Cejudo vs Azevedo is the new Bout of the Week on USA Wrestling Members Only website

By Gary Abbott | May 02, 2006, 3:32 p.m. (ET)
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .

The feature this week is the Henry Cejudo vs. Matt Azevedo match at 55 kg/121 pounds at the 2006 U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in men's freestyle wrestling.

This match featured one of the most exciting young wrestlers in the nation, high school senior Cejudo, and an experienced athlete in Azevedo, who has been making great strides within international wrestling. Both compete for the Sunkist Kids.

Both Cejudo and Azevedo were coming off very strong freestyle seasons, seeking their first U.S. Nationals title. The returning national champion in the division, 1998 World champion Sammie Henson of the Sunkist Kids, did not enter the U.S. Nationals this year.

Azevedo claimed the No. 1 seed in the tournament based upon his performance this season on both the national and international levels. Cejudo entered the tournament as a No. 3 seed, but had already proven that he was competitive on the Senior level with anybody.

Azevedo comes from a wrestling family. His uncle John Azevedo was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, and has become one of the nation's top wrestling coaches. Matt Azevedo started his high school career in Nevada where he was a two-time state champion, then finished his prep career competing for his uncle at nationally respected Calvary Chapel High School in California.

Azevedo competed at two college programs, Arizona State then Iowa State, and was competitive on the national level, qualifying for the NCAA Championships. His skills and abilities truly came out in international freestyle, however. He placed at the U.S. Nationals for the first time in 2002, and has been an All-American every year since, including a runner-up finish at the 2005 U.S. National Championships. He ended his 2005 season by placing fifth at the World Team Trials.

Azevedo is now an assistant wrestling coach at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo, where his uncle John has become the head wrestling coach.

This year, Azevedo has been wrestling very well. He started the season with a bronze medal at the Sunkist Kids International, then captured gold medals at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and the Poland Open.

Cejudo came into the 2006 U.S. Nationals as a senior at Coronado High School in Colorado. Unlike other high school seniors, he is also a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, working daily with national coaches such as Terry Brands, Kevin Jackson and Dave Bennett.

He won two Arizona state high school titles, then moved along with his older brother Angel to live at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. He has since won two high school state titles in Colorado, to end his prep career as a four-time state champion.

However, it has been in freestyle that Cejudo has excelled, moving past his peers on the high school level and competing at the international level with success. He has already won major age-group competitions at the Cadet, Junior and the FILA Junior levels. Last summer, Cejudo placed fifth at the FILA Junior World Championships.

He opened the 2005-06 freestyle season by placing fifth at the Sunkist Kids International, where he defeated former NCAA champion Jason Powell of the Sunkist Kids, but dropped matches to Azevedo and Luke Eustice of the Hawkeye TC. He truly showed that he belongs at the Senior level at the New York AC Holiday International, where he won the gold medal. Cejudo beat Powell again, and in the semifinals, he defeated Junior World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia. His victory in the finals was over tough Ekhkhtur Badamsakian of Mongolia in the finals.

At the 2006 U.S. Nationals, Cejudo won his first two bouts to qualify for the semifinals, where he had an opportunity to face Eustice again, with Cejudo winning this time, 2-2, 3-1. Azevedo had wins over Terrence Clendenin and Adam Smith to advance to the gold medal finals and earn another match against Cejudo.

The finals bout between Cejudo and Azevedo was active and competitive. Azevedo won the first period, 1-0, and Cejudo claimed the second period, 2-1. With the match on the line, Cejudo showed his explosive offense and captured the deciding third period, 4-2, becoming the first high school wrestler to win a U.S. Nationals freestyle title since USA Wrestling became the national governing body.

The U.S. World Team Trials are scheduled for May 27-28 in Sioux City, Iowa. Henson is expected to return, and will make this a very interesting and exciting weight class for fans to enjoy.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history.

Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page is the Jim Scherr vs. Dan Chaid match at 90 kg/198 pounds at the 1986 U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.