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Best U.S. Amateurs
By Adam Pollack
Aaron Alafa has recently been the most consistent top amateur at 112 pounds. He is a southpaw and a good boxer. He won the 2001 Golden Gloves and 2001 PAL, defeating Raytona Whitfield in the finals both times. He again defeated Whitfield in the quarterfinals of this yearís U.S. Championships, which he won by defeating Rodrigo Hernandez in the finals. Alafa won the 2002 U.S. Challenge, defeating Austreberto Juarez, as he had done in the semifinals of the 2002 U.S. Championships.
This weight is a little trickier to rank, but the one to watch for is Ron Siler, who moved up in weight from 106. At 106, Siler was the 2000 Golden Gloves Champion, defeating Raul Martinez in the finals. Siler also won the 2000 PAL at 106. Most interestingly, Siler won via referee stops contest (RSC) in the 4th round against current 106 pound champion Aaron Alafa at the 2001 U.S. Championsips at 106. In those championships, Siler also decisioned Ray Whitfield, a feat which he again repeated in the U.S. Challenge, winning via RSC 4 that time.
At 112 pounds, Siler won the 2001 PAL, but at the 2002 U.S. Championships, lost in the semifinals to Raul Martinez in a close 11-9 decision. Siler had previously defeated Martinez at 106 in the 2000 Golden Gloves finals.
Martinez then defeated Roberto Benitez 16-15 in the 2002 U.S. Championships final. Benitez narrowly missed the 2000 Olympics, losing to Olympic representative Jose Navarro. Martinez appears to be on the improve, because he previously lost to Benitez in the 2001 U.S. Championships semifinals 31-18, as well as in the 2001 U.S. Challenge final, 32-21.
However, at the 2002 U.S. Challenge, it appears Ron Siler may have established himself as the best, defeating Roberto Benitez 21-15, and defeating Raul Martinez 17-13 in the final. Siler, Martinez, and Benitez are the class of the division.
Right now, the dominant fighter at 119 pounds is Aaron Garcia. Garcia lost to Clarence Vinson 9-4 in the 2000 Olympic Box-Offs. Garcia moved up in weight and was strong at 125 pounds, winning the 2001 Golden Gloves, defeating 2000 PAL champion Jose Orozco, Joe Gentile, and John Santiago along the way. However, he appears even stronger now that he has moved back down to 119.
In the 2002 U.S. Championships quarterfinals, Garcia stopped Eric Nemo in the 3rd round. Nemo had won the 2001 PAL, defeating Torrence Daniels 19-10 in the finals, after Daniels had narrowly defeated Miguel Albares 7-6 in the semis.
In the 2002 U.S. Championships semis, Garcia decisioned Daniels 18-6. In the finals, Garcia forced Miguel Albares to retire in the 4th round. Albares had defeated Rahiem Jefferson 26-16 in the semifinals. Jefferson had lost to Roberto Benitez 22-12 in the 2000 Olympic Trials at 112, but moved up in weight and won the 2001 Golden Gloves at 119.
Garcia also defeated Rashiem Jefferson 26-15 at the 2002 U.S. Challenge, and repeated against Miguel Albares, this time via decision 20-16. Albares had defeated Torrence Daniels 21-7, avenging his 2001 narrow PAL loss to Daniels. Daniels then defeated Jefferson 29-14 in the consolation final.
The best at 125 is Johnny Vasquez, Jr. Vasquez was a standout at 119 pounds. At the 2001 U.S. Championships, he defeated Torrence Daniels 20-8, but lost a close one in the semifinals to eventual champion David Martinez, Jr. 14-14 (57-56)(who was also the 2000 PAL champion at 119). Vasquez won the 2001 U.S. Challenge, defeating Jason Litzau 12-8, and Samson Guillermo 12-10, who had defeated Martinez, Jr. 28-16.
Vasquez, Jr. moved up to 125 for the 2002 U.S. Championships, defeating Dat Nguyen 3-0 in the quarterfinals (who previously defeated 2001 U.S. Championships and U.S. Challenge runner up Jose Perez, Jr. 8-7). Vasquez defeated Johnnie Edwards 19-2 in the semifinals, and Apollo Welch 20-7 in the final.
Welch had defeated 2000 PAL champion Jose Orozco 18-10, Isidro Granados 18-17 in the quarterfinals, and Mickey Bey 18-9 in the semifinals. Bey had defeated 2001 U.S. Championships semifinalist and 2001 U.S. Challenge consolation champion Francisco Tafoya 18-10, and also defeated James DuBois via referee stops contest in the 4th. DuBois held a 4-2 2001 PAL decision over Johnnie Edwards.
At the U.S. Challenge, Vasquez, Jr. defeated Johnnie Edwards 15-6 in the final after defeating Bey 19-13 in the semifinal. Edwards had narrowly defeated Welch 6-6 (35-25) in the semifinal. Welch went on to win the consolation final, again defeating Bey, 23-20.
Verquan Kimbrough is tops at 132. At the 2001 U.S. Championships, Kimbrough defeated Lionel Madrigal 24-16 in the quarterfinals. Madrigal had defeated Lorenzo Reynolds 14-12. Kimbrough lost a close one in the semifinals to Luis Merced 14-14 (63-60), who then lost in the finals to Paul Malignaggi 12-2. However, at the 2001 US Challenge, Kimbrough defeated Merced in the rematch 16-14.
At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Kimbrough defeated Jorge Ceron 13-7 in the quarterfinals, Danny Jimenez 12-2 in the semifinals, and Lorenzo Reynolds in a close final 14-14 (54-52).
Reynolds had lost in the 2001 PAL semifinals to eventual champion Marshall Christmas 6-3. Along the way to the 2002 U.S. Championships final, Reynolds defeated top opposition, stopping David Rodela via RSC 3, avenged his loss to Christmas via 16-10 quarterfinals decision (after Christmas had won a close 4-4 (27-26) decision over Van Oscar Penovaroff), and winning a close 16-15 decision over Vincente Escobedo in the semifinals. Escobedo had won the 2000 PAL with a 19-9 decision over Christmas, but lost to Christmas 14-5 in the 2001 PAL final. At the 2001 PAL, Christmas also scored a 6-3 decision over Danny Jimenez.
In the 2002 U.S. Challenge, Kimbrough again defeated Reynolds, 14-10 in the final, and defeated Escobedo 22-14 in the semifinal. Reynolds defeated Jimenez 9-5 in the semifinal, and Escobedo defeated Jimenez 11-11 (54-47) in the consolation final.
Kimbrough may be the best, but watch out for Reynolds, who is on the improve.
Rock Allen is the top 139 pounder right now. At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Allen won a close one over 2001 132 pound Golden Gloves champion Lamont Peterson 11-11 (72-54) in the semifinals. Peterson scored a huge upset victory over Andre Dirrell 5-2 in the quarterfinals.
Dirrell had earlier defeated Tiger Allen 17-9 and won via RSC 4 over 2000 PAL champion Larry Gonzales. Gonzales held a 2001 U.S. Championships decision over Omri Lowther, Atlanta, Ga., 18-12. Rock Allen defeated Gonzales 21-10 at those championships.
Dirrell had defeated Rock Allen 18-4 at the 2001 PAL. However, at the 2002 U.S. Championships, Peterson defeated Dirrell, Allen defeated Peterson, and then defeated Omri Lowther 26-9 in the final.
At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Lowther had narrowly defeated 2001 Golden Gloves champion Chad Aquino 9-8 in the semifinals (Rock Allen defeated Aquino 13-5 at the 2000 PAL), and had close wins over Joshua Beeman 6-5 (who Rock defeated 5-1 at the 2001 PAL), and Hector Alatorre 7-6 (who Rock defeated 3-0 at the 2001 PAL).
Allen again defeated Peterson, 23-14 in the 2002 U.S. Challenge final, after narrowly defeating Chad Aquino 24-22 in the semifinals. Peterson had defeated Lowther 13-6 in the semifinals. Aquino defeated Lowther 17-12 in the consolation final.
Rock Allen is the best. However, although the most recent results may not show it, the one to watch out for in the future is Andre Dirrell, who was the 2001 U.S. Champion at 125 pounds, and is still growing into the weight after moving up.
Juan McPherson and Rondale Mason appear to be battling it out for top recognition at 147, but right now the momentum is with McPherson, who is growing into the weight.
McPherson was a top 139 pounder, scoring wins at the 2000 PAL over Omri Lowther 7-2, Kompa Koroma 2-1, and Joshua Beeman 6-0, before losing in the finals to Larry Gonzales 3-2. At the 2001 U.S. Championships at 139 pounds, McPherson defeated James Kirkland 20-8 (who became the 2001 Golden Gloves runner up at 147 pounds) and Chad Aquino 13-6 (eventual 2001 Golden Gloves champion at 139), before losing via disqualification to Abdon Lozano in 4th round of a semifinal bout.
McPherson appeared to come into his own at 139 pounds at the 2001 U.S. Challenge, defeating Rock Allen 12-5 and avenging his loss to Larry Gonzales in the final, stopping him in the 4th round.
At the 2002 U.S. Championships, at 147 pounds, McPherson defeated Anthony Little 22-15. Little held a decision in the 2001 U.S. Championships over 2001Golden Gloves champ James Parison, 20-17, but lost 21-2 to Anthony Thompson in the 2001 U.S. Challenge.
McPherson narrowly defeated Timothy Bradley 11-10 in the quarterfinals. Bradley lost to Anthony Thompson 10-6 in the 2000 PAL final, but became the 2001 PAL champion, defeating Rondale Mason 4-3 in the semifinals and James Parison 24-20 in the finals.
McPherson defeated Francisco Figueroa 16-14 in the semifinals. Figueroa had defeated James Parison 6-5 in the quarterfinals.
Rondale Mason defeated McPherson 9-5 in the finals of the 2002 U.S. Championships. Mason narrowly defeated Frank Gordin 6-5 in the quarterfinals and Raymond Biggs 10-9 in the semifinals. Mason had lost to Anthony Thompson in the 2000 Golden Gloves finals and 19-5 at the 2000 PAL. Mason had lost 10-8 to Enrique Gutierrez in the quarterfinals of the 2001 U.S. Championships, and lost 4-3 to Timothy Bradley in the semifinals of the 2001 PAL.
However, at the 2002 U.S. Challenge, McPherson defeated Biggs 11-4 in the semifinals and avenged his loss to Mason with a 10-6 victory. The future will tell whether McPherson or Mason is the divisionís best.
Right now, 156 is probably the most interesting division to watch. There are three very talented fighters in this weight class: Jesus Gonzalez, Andre Berto, and Sechew Powell. Gonzalez is the best at this point.
Previously, Sechew Powell was clearly the best in the division. He won the 2000 Golden Gloves and the 2001 U.S. Championships. In that latter tournament, Powell defeated Walter Wright 22-10 in the final, after Wright had defeated Andre Berto 19-17 in a preliminary round. Powell also won the 2001 U.S. Challenge, defeating Rudy Cisneros 18-3 and Julian Townsend 19-10.
Andre Berto won the 2000 PAL, defeating Jesse Orta 19-12 in the semifinals, and Ishmail Arvin 20-3 in the final. Berto also won the 2001 Golden Gloves.
Jesus Gonzales won the 2001 PAL, defeating Jesse Orta 16-7 in the semifinals, and stopping Mike Allen via RSC 4 in the final.
At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Berto defeated Rudy Cisneros 19-4 in a preliminary bout. Jesus Gonzales defeated Julian Townsend 14-6 in the quarterfinals. Berto narrowly defeated Sechew Powell 18-16 in the semifinals. Gonzales narrowly defeated Berto 15-12 in the final.
At the 2002 US Challenge, Jesus Gonzales defeated Sechew Powell 25-16 in the semifinals and Andre Berto 30-18 in the final. Thus, Gonzales is the best, followed by Berto, with Powell being a close third. Expect excellent battles between these three.
Julius Fogle is the perhaps the best 165 pound fighter, at least in the absence of Andre Ward. Fogle won the 2000 PAL with a 15-11 decision over Daniel Edouards after defeating LaJuan Simon 6-4 in the semifinals.
However, at the 2001 U.S. Championships, Fogle lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Andre Ward 20-5, who defeated Eric Kelly 18-8 in the final. Kelly was the 2000 Golden Gloves champion. At the 2001 U.S. Challenge, Fogle defeated Eric Kelly 15-5, but again lost to Andre Ward in the final, 20-9.
At the 2002 U.S. Championships, Fogle defeated Mike Martinez 10-6 in the final, after defeating Donyil Livingston 13-6 in the semifinals. Martinez had defeated Leon Hinds 10-7 in the semifinals. At the 2001 PAL, Martinez defeated Andre Berto 5-2 in the quarterfinals and Donyil Livingston 7-4 in the semifinals before becoming the champion. Martinez lost in the 2001 U..S. Championships quarterfinals to Eric Kelly.
At the 2002 U.S. Challenge, Fogle again defeated Martinez, 5-3 in the final. In the semifinals, Martinez had defeated Livingston 8-7 and Fogle defeated Leon Hinds 12-9. Hinds defeated Livingston 13-6 in the consolation final.. Fogle is the best right now, but Andre Ward had been so dominant last year that he still has to be considered a factor.
The ones to watch for at 178 are Curtis Stevens, DeAndrey Abron, Jacob Garretson, and Tavoris Cloud.
Stevens won the 2002 U.S. Championships, defeating Tavoris Cloud 15-10 in the final after stopping Jacob Garretson via RSC 4 in the semifinals and 2000 PAL champion Terrance Johnson 40-20 in the quarterfinals.
Cloud defeated 2001 U.S. champion DeAndrey Abron in a close one, 14-13 in the semifinals. Abron was the 2001 U.S. champion, U.S. Challenge champion, and 2001 PAL champion. Cloud had lost to Joseph Pastorello 21-10 at the 2001 U.S. Championships. Pastorello lost to Abron in the final 16-6.
At the 2002 U.S. Challenge, Stevens did not fight. Garretson won a decision over Cloud, 15-13, but did not fight Abron in the final. However, 2001 PAL champion Abron defeated Garretson in the semifinals of that tournament, 5-2. Stevens is a newcomer on the scene and may be the best, but disappeared as quickly as he appeared. Abron is the long term champion who is still a threat.
B.J. Flores is the top 201 pound boxer right now. Flores defeated 2000 Golden Gloves, 2001 PAL and 2001 Golden Gloves champion Devin Vargas 19-11 in the 2002 U.S. Championships final. He had previously defeated Vargas 18-12 in the final of the 2001 U.S. Championships. Flores again defeated Vargas 17-9 in the final of the 2002 U.S. Challenge.
Flores did have a close call in the semifinals of the 2002 U.S. Championships, defeating Anthony Stewart 11-11 (55-48). Flores had defeated Stewart 18-14 in the 2001 U.S. Championships. Vargas defeated Stewart 33-12 in the 2002 U.S. Challenge.
Another top fighter to consider, but who was not in the 2002 U.S. Championships tournament, is Rydell Booker. Booker lost in the 2000 Golden Gloves final to Devin Vargas after defeating Anthony Stewart in the semifinals. However, at the 2001 U.S. Challenge, Booker avenged his loss to Vargas, defeating him 21-13. Booker lost to Flores 17-7 in the 2001 U.S. Championships, but avenged that loss by defeating Flores in the 2001 U.S. Challenge 18-10.
Jason Estrada is the best 201+ super heavyweight. He defeated George Garcia 15-9 in the 2002 U.S. Championships final and 8-3 in the final of the 2002 U.S. Challenge. Garcia narrowly defeated 2001 Golden Gloves champion Lonnie Zaid 13-12 in the quarterfinals and Davin King 24-14 in the semifinals. Zaid had lost to Devin Vargas in the semifinals of the 2000 Golden Gloves at 201 pounds.
Estrada had defeated Garcia 25-11in the semifinals of the 2001 U.S. Championships and in the final of the 2001 U.S. Challenge, 19-3, as well as the final of the 2001 PAL, 9-9 (80-59). Estrada also defeated Davin King 12-2 at the 2002 U.S. Challenge.
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