The 2021 USA Boxing Nationals Boxing Cheat Sheet/Recap – Who To Watch In 2021
These are my observations on the week-and-a-half-long USA Boxing national tournament, from my limited viewing of the event. This is not intended to be the be all, end-all of amateur boxing, but simply an entry-point for those who have a passion for boxing, and want to follow young amateur fighters.
Important to note that the number one and number two fighters in the country, did not participate as they are currently in the USA Boxing Olympic program prepping for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Notable National Champions
Leaving the first national tournament since 2019, it was a youth boxer who stood out to me the most as 114 lbs youth national champion, Steven Navarro, to me, felt like the fighter of the tournament. Navarro is as fast as anyone in the tournament, uses tremendous angles, and despite not being elite yet, looks to be the front-runner for the flyweight spot, for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Navarro is someone who made a tremendous impression, and will be a fighter, to be watched moving forward.
Mederos, who is the current Olympic Alternate, to 138 lbs, Olympic Qualification Team member, Charlie Sheehy, is a powerful puncher, with tremendous experience, that showed over the course of the tournament. Mederos experienced edged out rising star of the division, Lorenzo Powell, as Mederos defeated Veshaun Lee of Illinois in the finals.
Mederos has a good professional style, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn pro before the year is over, rather than wait for one more Olympic cycle.
Coach Darrell Davis will become one of the most well-respected coaches in professional boxing, shortly, and his time is coming with Jahmal Harvey, the Oxon Hill, MD, based team that one the most bouts in national competition in 2019. Harvey is a long fighter at 125 lbs, but has the intangibles of being a dog, and fighting on the inside, winning close fights with flurries when needed, having the IQ in the ring, to know how to win a close fight. Harvey made a statement defeating winning the 125 lbs elite tournament in his first elite tournament ever, defeating Olympic Trials participants Jonathan Mansour and Kevin Montano as well a very good amateur Stevie Johnson. Harvey is a winner, looks to be the guy to go through for the time being in 125 lbs division.
This is Harvey’s third-straight national championship.
Abdullah Mason beat one of the best American fighters currently picking up a decision over Joel Iriarte, as Mason showed off his hand speed which kept the larger, and usually busier Iriarte off-balance. The finals performance capped off, a sensational run, that has Abdullah Mason looking to be one of the true front-runners at becoming an Olympian in 2024. Mason, who has been in camp with elite fighters like Devin Haney, and a part of boxing family, that now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada was a big winner of this tournament. The big takeaway was Mason’s ability to be first, along with his handspeed.
A true boxer-puncher with bad intentions in women’s boxing at the 141 lbs division. Carrasco is a fighter any and all should be aware of as not just is she a sweat boxer, but she packs a lot of power. Carrasco had one of the most dominant finals performances en route to winning her national title, as she gave her opponent to standing-eights in the first round. Carrasco sat her opponent down again in the second as well. Carrasco, is dominate, smart and talent, a force in women’s boxing for years to come, as she stopped her opponent in two rounds in the finals, an impressive showing.
Shera Mae Patricio
One of the most dominant fighters in the tournament along with Carrasco, Patricio is looking to be a hard out for anyone as she has a combination of good skills, with athletic ability, and an ability to know how to win a fight. The Oahu, Hawaii native, nicknamed “The Beast” will be a fighter that will continue to be atop all levels of competition in the sport.
One of my favorites of the tournament from the moment, he took the microphone and co-hosted some of the event with commentator David Austin. Winn won the elite men’s 201 lbs division, and looked to be a star on the rise from his personality, to stepping up during his toughest fights and winning. Winn started his journey on the previous Saturday, and concluded his title run with a win, a week later. Winn looks to be a pillar of the foundation for the 2024 Olympic team moving foward.
More than likely the next great American heavyweight we will see as Patton is passing all the early tests as a very special, even before becoming elite. Patton’s performances have the Paris, Tennessee fighter looking to be the super heavyweight to watch for in 2024, as Patton looks to be just the right mix of boxer with big power.
Donte Layne was one of the sweetest boxers I saw in the whole tournament. Good angles, movement, and a solid IQ. Layne was crafty, and smart with bad intentions, the New York fighter looks to be a fighter that in time could translate into a very good fighter on the world level
One of the best at 132 lbs in women’s boxing took the YF 132 title, as Mendez starts off the year on the right note. Mendez is tall, able to box and press the action. Mendez is an exciting fighter, who will have great bouts in the future with her follow competitors as she is one of the most stacked divisions in women’s boxing currently.
Pressure, pressure, pressure. Gomez is a brawler with high volume and high output. Gomez was extremely successful with this style, as the El Paso, Texas, native won the Y 112 lbs women’s division. What I hope to see is added implementation of defense in future national tournaments.
The unranked Rocklin, California, native won the 132 lbs defeating Jaleeci Dominguez and Neida Ibarra in her path to victory. The fighter out of Jose Morales Boxing Academy had a great tournament and certainly opened new doors for herself in the sport of boxing with this performance.
Not unlike Kayla Gomez, Lozano brings pressure, and a lot of it. The Texas native defeated a very good fighter, Mariana Gonzalez in the finals to win the title. Lozano has a pro-ready style, and excels in flurries and exchnages.
A fast-handed southpaw, who can box and elusive is always worth watching as Washington made his rise to 101 YM division look clinical. Washington, a speedster, who throws in combination, methodical, smart and throwing with bad intentions.
It is somewhat ironic that the night Amari Jones turned pro in Atlanta, after his national title run, Omari Jones of Florida, defeated one of my favorite fighters in the tournament, Angel Perez. When I look at Jones, I see hunger and motivation, on top of skill, as he is one of the most intense fighters of the entire tournament.
Arika Skoog had a notable tournament, and an impressive finals victory, as she was nothing short of dominate in this entire tournament. Skoog now becomes a major player for women’s boxing moving forward after this tournament.
Panthen defeated one of my favorites of the tournament Ralph Clemente in the finals. For this fact, not unlike a few other fighters on this list, you should pay attention to him as Clemente is a big puncher, who is strong as heck, and Panthen was able to find success against the formidable foe.
Richard Dodson put his name on the map at this national tournament defeating Elijah Lugo. Lugo, the brother of Nathan Lugo, is one of the marquee fighters of his division, and for Dodson to pick up the win is a massive statement that will make him a player in future national tournaments.
Not unlike Dodson, Almajdi is now a national name as he won a fight against Nathan Lugo in the national championship, as both Lugo brothers, but especially Nathan is one of the most feared fighters in the country. A win over such a highly touted and respected fighter is one that deserves attention.
Sativa James picked her national title win, once again, as the lanky fighter, finds ways to win. James moving forward we will look to see if she will put punches together, and/or step-back and land punches with full extension, as she had her opponent hurt in the finals and smoothered
James Bragg Jr.
I rarely cover little guys on my page, but James Bragg Jr., of Soul City Boxing Gym, is becoming one of my favorite young fighters I have ever seen. Using the Soul City Boxing Gym trademark style of breakdown fighters, Bragg Jr. looked more seasoned than others that he fight in his age bracket, Bragg is someone to keep your eyes on over the years.
“Pistol” Damon Flores
This young fighter out of Ceres, Ca, looks to be the most well-schooled of the young emerging fighters, who
Notables Who Didn’t Win The Tournament
Nathan Lugo is big, and strong, not unlike a Mike Tyson of the amateurs, as he clearly intimidates some of his foes before even getting in the ring with him. Lugo throws with bad intentions and has no intentions of going backward. Lugo is one of the fighters in amateur boxing who you can see how his style will translate to the pros, and will be a fan-favorite for years to come.
Angel Perez is quite possibly the biggest puncher in the tournament as Perez dropped opponents in a manner different than others. As Perez’s stoppage of Ruben Salazar was impressive, but his continued success made him a bonafide threat to any and all, as he showed he isn’t just a puncher, but can set shots up and also land clean punchers, besides just looking for one big punch. Perez, the 152 lbs national champion, is someone to continue to follow.
Joel Iriarte reminds me so much of 2012 U.S. Olympian, Jose Ramirez, it is scary. From the work ethic in the gym, to his fast-paced style, to even his ties with the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, Joel Iriarte, has special written all over him, especially at 138 lbs division. Already one of the best fighters in the country, despite being in the youth division, Iriarte has a pro-ready style, that is effective in the amateurs, and on top of that finds inspiration in Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, as one of his favorite fighters. The youth 138 lbs national champion, Iriarte is one to keep an eye out for, as he has a chance to be extremely special.
Ralph Clemente in terms of a professional boxer has everything I would want in a fighter, power, work ethic, and so much more. Clemente lost in the finals, but still looks like an exciting guy to watch moving forward as his intentions are clear – LAND BIG PUNCHES.
The bronze medalist in the stacked 138 lbs division started the tournament ranked #14, and will end the tournament as the #3 boxer in the country, losing in the semi-finals, to inevitable winner Harley Mederos. Powell is still developing, but has aspects to his skillset that many in this division or in the tournament don’t.
I really like Obed Bartee-El, and despite losing to Ralph Clemente in the semi-finals, I see him as a future player in both the amateur boxing landscape and as a pro. Not unlike Lorenzo Powell, I just see experience being the limiting factor, but the drive and skills are there for this talented fighter.
One of the most talented fighters in the country lost a decision to “J.J.” Smith, who had one of the key storylines of the tournament. That being said, Martinez is still at the top of the division along with Faith Mendez as those two, and Daisy Bamberger, look to be the marquee fighters heading into the 2024 Olympics currently.
I’Jayla “J.J.” Smith
J.J. Smith had one of the best stories of the tournament, having gone to five national tournaments, losing in the first round, in each prior to this tournament, in which she upset, tournament favorite, Sierra Martinez. Smith of Bay Point, California, is tall for the 132 lbs division, has the will power to beat the odds, showed a willingness to compete.
The son of Steve Cunningham, Steven Cunningham, has yet to win a national tournament, but has collected solid wins along the way. Taking on a lot of the attributes of his father, most notable worth ethic, as he has one of the most pro-ready bodies of anyone in the tournament, Cunningham will be a tough fight for anyone.
Dominick Reed made it to the finals, and though he came up short in the finals, showed tons of poise and promise. Reed is far ahead of his peers in terms of physical strength, and seems like inevitable national champion.
A very good boxer, who was easy to overlook, because of how many bout occurred. Dawson is talented, and smart, showing good schooling and pedigree, it just so happened he was in one of the deepest brackets in the tournament.
Not unlike, Obed Bartee-El or Lorenzo Powell, I enjoy watching Takeam Bradley. Bradley’s elite trait is his brain and his ability to think in the ring. Bradley is a fighter who has the ability to achieve as much as he wants from the sport.
The charismatic 125 lbs fighter fights with a pro-style and is adjusting to the highest level of the amateurs, as the only thing I see hold him back currently is experience. Johnson has one of the best attitudes of any competitor, and is a fighter to keep your eyes on.
A deep cut, Cristian Nonies at 108 lbs, looks to be a tough pro, not suited for the amateur game, as his punches all had bad intentions, and looked to be a fighter who would break you down over time, and three rounds is not enough time for that. I see Nonies upsetting someone in the future in the professional realm.