(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – American flyweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) entered the 2014 Youth Olympic Games with an unblemished international record and the 17-year-old finished the tournament in the same fashion with a unanimous decision win in Wednesday’s final round competition in Nanjing, China. Super heavyweight Darmani Rock (Philadelphia, Pa.) lost a 3-0 decision to Germany’s Peter Kadiru in the final bout of the tournament on Wednesday to claim a silver medal.
Stevenson battled host nation boxer LY Ping of China in the flyweight finale at the International Expo Centre on Wednesday, but the boisterous crowd couldn’t distract him from his gold medal mission. “I was a little nervous at the beginning because of the crowd, but once I stepped in to the ring the nerves went away,” Stevenson said. “I pictured myself in my home gym and that helped me to relax.”
Stevenson showed no evidence of his nerves throughout the three rounds with Ping, using his height and exceptional skill to land crisp combinations and evade Ping’s shots. He got stronger as the bout wore on and for the third bout in a row, won every round on every judge’s scorecard. The championship bout was the second between the two boxers with Stevenson winning a 3-0 decision in the semifinals of the Youth World Championships in April.
“We followed the same game plan that I had for him at the Youth World Championships,” Stevenson said. “Coach (Edward) Rivas wanted me to stay patient, but I wanted to make sure that I won convincingly since we were in his home country.”
The American teenager didn’t need to worry about the scorecards and he smiled from ear-to-ear as the announcer named him the 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion by unanimous decision.
“Shakur controlled the tempo and flow of the bout and maintained his defense while creating his own offensive opportunities,” said USA Boxing coach Edward Rivas. “He was the superior boxer in his flyweight division and that was evident throughout the competition.”
The Youth Olympic Games gold medal is just the latest international hardware for the teenage sensation. He won both a junior world championship and the International Amateur Boxing Association’s Junior Male Boxer of the Year award in 2013 prior to taking the youth world championship earlier this year. Now that he has added a Youth Olympic Games gold medal to his trophy case, the 17-year-old plans to focus on school and gear up for a run at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Rock’s bout with Kadiru was a rematch from the super heavyweight final round match at the 2014 Youth World Championships, which Rock won on split decision. Kadiru entered the bout with a renewed game plan and his eye on an upset. Rock started the bout using his height to maintain his desired distance, but Kadiru’s increased punch output seemed to give the American boxer difficulty. Kadiru maintained his pressure throughout the contest and despite Rock’s attempts to thwart Kadiru’s efforts, the German boxer won a 3-0 decision.
“He was the better man tonight and really came to fight,” Rock said. “He threw a lot more punches than he did in our first bout and that was the difference. I’ve got to get back in the gym when I get home and work harder.”
Rock will take home a Youth Olympic Games silver medal in only his third international competition.
“Darmani kept finding himself out of position and his rhythm and balance were off,” Coach Rivas said. “He was feeling good going into the competition, but was unable to get settled in and work up to his capabilities.”
Cuba and United States both advanced three boxers to final round action and the two nations each won two gold and one silver medal.
NBC Sports Network will show highlights from the men’s final round action in their evening coverage tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. All of the Youth Olympic Games boxing action can still be viewed at www.olympic.tv by selecting the search icon on the upper left hand side of the screen and entering the athlete’s name.
In addition to the medals won by Stevenson and Rock, female lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) won a gold medal in Tuesday’s action. The U.S. team will return to the United States on Friday.
U.S. Gold Medal Bout Results
114 lbs/male: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA dec. LY Ping, CHN, 3-0
201+ lbs/male: Peter Kadiru, GER, dec. Darmani Rock, Philadelphia, Pa./USA, 3-0