|Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.|
OSHAWA, Ontario -- In a wild final night of boxing, Team USA took home two more medals at the Pan American Games, led by flyweight Antonio Vargas, who won gold. It was the first gold medal by a U.S. man since the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio.
Vargas won on unanimous decision, 3-0, against Yosbany Veitia of Cuba in a match controlled by the American. Vargas knew being aggressive was important, knowing Veitia’s style, as he put the Cuban on his back late in the first round and never looked back.
“Most definitely it dictated the pace for the first round, got the respect right off the bat,” Vargas said. “He was keeping his hands down and with me just keeping his hands up, so he respected me. …
“Punches in bunches, I wanted to break his rhythm because he has good rhythm, good foot movement, so the plan was to take his left side away. Just punches and punches and then straight shots to the middle.”
Vargas said the win was a confidence booster heading into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and the tournament overall helped him evolve as a better boxer. For his teammate, Cam F. Awesome, who earned the bronze medal in the men’s super-heavyweight division earlier this week, he was more excited for Vargas to win than receiving his own medal.
“I’m so proud of him, I almost cried when he won,” Awesome said. “He’s one of my favorites I’m so happy he won, I’m so excited. I’m more excited about him winning than me.”
Awesome, who gained overnight success calling himself the “Taylor Swift of boxing” after losing in the semifinals, embraces being the “gorgeous face” of USA Boxing and representing his country at the Pan American Games.
“Some people have called them the ‘Pan Cam Games,’ and they’ve been going great,” Awesome said. “It’s a great opportunity for me and I just want to take everything I’ve learned back to America and start to get ready for continentals in Venezuela. I think this has been a big step for me and a big piece of the puzzle towards my career not just in boxing and outside of boxing.”
In the women’s flyweight final Saturday, reigning world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza earned the silver medal, losing in a close split decision, 2-1, to Canadian Mandy Bujold.
“I could agree on a split, but I thought it wasn’t her way,” Esparza said. “I was too comfortable at the beginning so she was catching me with some straight rights, but she didn’t intentionally land anything.”