(SPOKANE, WASH.) – Friday marked championship night for 26 young boxers vying for a first-ever youth division title at the 2013 USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane, Wash. The event moved venues to the Northern Casino Resort & Casino on Friday with elite men’s action being contested on Friday afternoon and the youth division finals taking over the ring in evening competition. All of Friday’s early day winners will compete for a national championship and a spot on the World Championships team in evening action on Saturday.
Yet Friday night was all about the 17 and 18-year-old competitors with nine men and four women claiming national titles in youth division final round action. The title of first-ever youth division champion went to 2012 Junior Olympic National Champion Marisol Lopez (Stratford, Calif.). Decked out in a Marlen Esparza inspired American flag bandana, Lopez defeated Monica Suazo (Tucson, Ariz.) by a unanimous 3-0 margin to claim the first-ever gold youth gold medal in USA Boxing National Championships action.
The Esparza theme continued in the second bout of the night between 2012 Junior Olympic National Champion Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) and Olympic Training Partner Gilbert Renteria (Houston, Texas). Renteria, who served as Esparza’s chief sparring partner for her bronze medal winning performance this past summer in London, pulled out the split decision, 2-1 over Hernandez to take the light flyweight gold medal.
Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) took the title in the flyweight division, winning a unanimous 3-0 decision over Brent Venegas III (Elk Grove, Calif.) in their championship bout.
In bantamweight action, it was Jarico O’Quinn (Lansing, Mich.) taking the 2013 USA Boxing National Championships youth division title. O’Quinn, who enjoyed a strong week of action in Spokane, won gold with a unanimous decision win over Francisco Martinez (Dallas, Texas).
The lightweight division was deepest in the tournament with the two final round competitors, Lamont Roach (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Genaro Gamez (San Diego, Calif.) each having won every day of competition to advance to Friday’s action. Yet their performance in the ring showed no sign of fatigue for either boxer. The two battled hard throughout and at the end of three rounds, Roach was announced the winner on a 2-1 split decision.
Rashida Ellis (Lynn, Mass.) has previously tested her skills against top boxers in the open division, winning the 2012 National PAL Title in October, but due to the new rule change regarding age groups, she is now competing in the youth division. After seeing her brother fall yesterday in men’s elite action, Ellis buzzed through Marlisa Stamps (Milwaukee, Wis.) in the youth division female’s lightweight final on Friday. The 18-year-old won a third round TKO stoppage at the 1:31 mark to take the title.
In light welterweight competition, it was another unanimous decision victory in final round action. Alexis Urbina (Phoenix, Ariz.) took a 3-0 victory over Deville Alexander (Houston, Texas) to claim the gold medal.
Samantha Kinchen (Lexington, Ky.) wasted no time in her women’s welterweight contest with Taylor Carroll (Monroe, Mich.). She began firing and landing shots in the opening seconds and didn’t let up until the referee stopped the bout at the 1:41 mark of the first round, giving Kinchen the TKO victory and the gold medal.
A second Washington DC area boxer won youth division gold in the men’s welterweight class. Kareem Martin (Clinton, Md.) took a unanimous 3-0 decision over Timothy Lee (Las Vegas, Nev.) in their final round showdown.
The unanimous decision streak continued in the middleweight class where Alex Rincon (Carrollton, Texas) faced off with Javier Martinez (Milwaukee, Wis.). Rincon earned a 3-0 decision over Martinez in the middleweight contest to take the middleweight crown.
Elvis Figueroa (New Haven, Conn.) took the light heavyweight crown in the 12th bout of Friday evening’s action. He faced off with Michael Barreto (Minneapolis, Minn.) in the championship bout and won the final decision victory of the youth division finals. Figueroa’s 3-0 victory earned him the light heavyweight title.
Heavyweight John Luna (Milwaukee, Wis.) closed the night’s action in thundering fashion in his final round contest with Alberto Fundora (Milwaukee, Wis.). The towering Luna fired heavy shots on Fundora, giving him two standing eight counts before the referee saw fit to halt the bout at the 2:17 mark of the first round of action.
Saturday’s action will feature two sessions with the senior men’s finals and the elite women’s light flyweight, bantamweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light heavyweight championship bouts taking place at 1 p.m. The 6 p.m. session will showcase all 10 elite men’s finals and the elite women’s flyweight, featherweight, lightweight and middleweight championship contests.
Review full results here and check out Saturday's bout sheets.