They are looking for repeat championships. And, this time, Olympic medals.
Heavyweight contender Cam F. Awesome, a bronze medalist at the Pan American Games, and flyweight boxer Erros Correa, both winners in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, are among 69 fighters in nine weight classes who’ll do battle in the 2016 Olympic Trials for Men’s Boxing in Reno, Nevada.
A 10th weight class (lightweight) won’t be contested because Carlos Balderas already clinched a berth in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games through his performance in the World Series of Boxing.
The United States is looking for its first Olympic medal in men’s boxing since 2008.
Opening-round bouts in the Olympic Trials begin Monday at Silver Legacy Resort in Reno. After four days of competition, the final rounds will be held Dec. 11-12 in the Reno Events Center.
The finals can be streamed live starting at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 12 by clicking here or by downloading the NBC Live Extra app.
Champions in the nine weight classes in the Olympic Trials must still earn their spots for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through international competition. Those events include the AIBA Continental Olympic Qualifying Events in March in Buenos Aires, Argentina; May in Sofia, Bulgaria; and June in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Here is a look at the contenders:
Light Flyweight Division
Nico Hernandez, a lube technician from Wichita, Kansas, began his path toward Rio four years ago when he won the first of two Junior Olympics national championships. Since then, he was won a Golden Gloves national championship, won a bronze medal at the 2015 Continental Championships and was the winner in his weight class at the world championship team trials. Both Hernandez and 2015 national champion Melik Elliston began boxing at a young age and are coached by their fathers. Elliston was on the 2015 Pan American Games team. D’Angelo Sandate and Adrian Servin are also coached by their dads.
Don’t count out: Two-time national champion Leroy Davila, a 27-year-old who was born on the Fourth of July and works in solar paneling in New Jersey.
Last Olympic medal in light flyweight: Michael Carbajal, silver medal, 1988
This weight class, which was won by three-time Olympian Rau'shee Warren in 2012, is stacked with top talent. Eros Correa, who won the 2012 Olympic Trials in light flyweight, has moved up to flyweight. Antonio Vargas, the 2015 national champ, won the United States’ only gold medal in the boxing competition in the 2015 Pan Am Games. Also contending is Brent Venegas III, who was winner of the world championship team trials.
Don’t count out: Gilbert Renteria, an Olympic training partner for Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza in 2012 at the age of 15.
Last Olympic medal in flyweight: Tim Austin, bronze medal, 1992
Francisco Martinez and 18-year-old Shakur Stevenson enter the Olympic Trials as top bantamweight contenders. Martinez was a bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games and winner in the world championship team trials. Stevenson won gold medals at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, 2014 Youth World Championships and 2013 Junior World Championships.
Don’t count out: Mikhail Montgomery, a silver medalist at a qualifier who is coached, along with his two older brothers, by his father, Michael Montgomery Sr.
Last Olympic medal in bantamweight: Clarence Vinson, bronze medal, 2000
Light Welterweight Division
Tyrek Irby, who won the U.S. spot in the world championship team trials, and Luis Feliciano, the 2015 national champion and a 2015 Pan American Games team member, lead the contenders in the light welterweight division. Rising quickly in this weight class 19-year-old Gary Russell, a Golden Gloves champion who comes from a strong family tradition in boxing. His older brother, Gary Russell Jr., was on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and became WBC world champion as a featherweight. Gary is coached by his father, Gary Russell Sr.
Don’t count out: Abraham Nova, 2014 USA Boxing national champion
Last Olympic medal in light welterweight: Ricardo Williams, silver medal, 2000
Ferdinand Kerobyan, who will turn 18 the day after the Olympic Trials ends, will battle a group of older fighters in the welterweight division. Two years ago, he won a Junior Olympics title, and he qualified for the Olympic Trials by winning the third qualifier. Top contenders in this weight class also include two-time national champion Jose Alday, 2015 national champion Ardreal Holmes and world championship team trial champion Brian Ceballo.
Don’t count out: Paul Kroll, an electrician from Philadelphia who won the Olympic Trials Qualifier II.
Last Olympic medal in welterweight: Kenneth Gould, bronze medal, 1988
Christopher Ousley, who grew up on the rough south side of Chicago, decided he want to take a run at Olympic boxing after watching the boxing competition in 2012 in London. Ousley is among an impressive middleweight group, including Anthony Campbell, the world championship team trials winner and national runner-up; Chordale Booker, the 2015 national champion and 2014 runner-up; and Leshawn Rodriguez, a two-time national champion.
Don’t count out: Marquis Moore, 24, a U.S. Army veteran who went to the American Military University before qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
Last Olympic medal in middleweight: Andre Dirrell, bronze medal, 2004
Light Heavyweight Division
Less than two months ago, light heavyweight national champion Steven Nelson dropped to his knee in the center of the ring at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing to propose marriage to U.S. women’s boxer Raquel Miller. This week in Reno, he’ll attempt to top off a memorable year by winning the Olympic Trials. Nelson arrives at the Olympic Trials as a favorite. He won the light heavyweight class in the world championship team trials and also was on the Pan American Games team. He was a training partner for 2012 Olympian Marcus Browne leading up to the 2012 Games.
Don’t count out: Joseph George, a 26-year-old father of five who started boxing in 2008 and was the winner of the final qualifying tournament.
Last Olympic medal in light heavyweight: Andre Ward, gold medal, 2004
|Cam F. Awesome (red) is among the boxers competing in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Men's Boxing on Dec. 7-12 in Reno, Nev.|
Don’t count out: Sardius Simmons, silver medalist in the 2014 USA Boxing national championships.
Last Olympic medal in heavyweight: Deontay Wilder, bronze medal, 2008
Super Heavyweight Division
Darmani Rock, who in 2014 won a youth world championship and a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games, is poised to take a next step toward the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He is the current USA Boxing national champion at super heavyweight. Because Cam F. Awesome and Brandon Glanton chose to compete at heavyweight, there are just six boxers in the super heavyweight class. The group also includes Marlo Moore, a silver medalist in the 2015 national championships.
Don’t count out: Alante “Greatness” Green, winner of the second qualifying tournament.
Last Olympic medal in super heavyweight: Riddick Bowe, silver medal, 1988Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990 and was Olympic assistant bureau chief for Morris Communications at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. He also writes about Olympic sports for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc