|Carlos Balderas poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Los Angeles.
The USA Knockouts took advantage of a match on home soil to close out their World Series of Boxing season by scoring a five-bout sweep over the Morocco Atlas Lions Friday evening at the Miccosukee Sports and Entertainment Dome in Miami, Florida.
In a promising sign for potential meetings at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, U.S. boxers scored victories against three Moroccans who will compete in Rio in August.
Super heavyweight Marlo Moore set the tone for the evening by scoring a technical knockout (TKO) against Ahmed Bourous. Moore’s WSB debut was a short one, as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion and 2015 national silver medalist overwhelmed his opponent to end the bout at the 2:33 mark in the first of the scheduled five three-minute rounds.
Olympic Trials champion Jonathan Esquivel kept things rolling in his light heavyweight bout against Hassan Saada. After winning the first two rounds on the judges’ scorecards in the 10-point system, he put an end to the contest with a TKO at 1:47 in the third round, solidifying his hold on the No. 1 ranking among WSB light heavyweights.
What may have been the most anticipated bout of the evening came in the welterweight division, where Paul Kroll met WSB Boxer of the Week Mohammed Rabii. The Moroccan, who will be on the card in Rio in August, had a victory over Cuban Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias in 2015 WSB competition and looked to be a formidable foe. Kroll, rebounding from a loss to Iglesias in the Americas Olympic qualifier two weeks ago, scored a unanimous decision to secure the third win of the night for the Knockouts.
Next up were the flyweights, where 2015 Pan American Games champion Antonio Vargas faced another member of the Rio Olympic team in Archaf Kharroubi. Vargas validated his standing as the No. 1 WSB flyweight, controlling the bout and the judges’ scorecards from first bell to last, scoring a unanimous decision.
That left it to 2016 Olympic qualifier Carlos Balderas to put the finishing touches on the night when he took on Hamza Rabii in the lightweight division. The first U.S. boxer to qualify for Rio, Balderas showed how he earned that distinction, knocking Rabii to the floor less than two minutes into the second round. The referee stepped in to end the bout, closing out a stellar evening for the U.S. contingent.
Ending their season on a high note, the Knockouts now await the results from other WSB matches to determine whether they will advance to the series playoffs.