Looking Back TEAM USA BOXING At The 2021 AIBA World Championship

So these are my observations from the 2021 AIBA World Boxing Championship from the Stark ArenaBelgradeSerbia.

The Gold Medalist

Jahmal Harvey, featherweight – Jahmal Harvey is one of the best fighter in all of America at only 18-years-old, and one could make the case that he could’ve medal at the Olympics this year if he had of competed. Harvey defeated the 2020 Olympic #1 seed in Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, 2020 Olympian Serik Temirzhanov, 2020 Olympian Samuel Kistohurry, amongst others. Featherweight is very competitive, and Harvey at only 18-years-old appears to be the best in the world, and his worst day is no worse than top-3. Harvey is a very special fighter.

Expectations: Harvey is an exceptional body puncher with good distance control as well, and is able to fight in both stances. The easy comparison is to a fighter like Terence Crawford, who is talented, mean, and able to adjust on instincts as well. I want to see Harvey win more international tournaments, but Harvey looks like one of the pillars for boxing in America, both amateur and pro for the next decade. In short, Harvey would be my #1 draft pick if promoters had drafts picking talent from the amateurs.

Rahim Gonzales, light heavyweight – Gonzales is waiting out for the 2024 Olympics and taking an Eastern European/Cuban approach to amateur boxing as being an Olympian means more to him than going pro at this present moment. Gonzales is a workaholic, plus has a tremendous mental toughness that can’t be taught this is best seen as after losing the second round in the gold medal match, Gonzales dropped his opponent in the third not too mention Gonzales is very skilled. Looking back at the 2020 Olympic Trials, Gonzales was the most spectacular of any fighter not losing a single round, and beating Atif Oberlton in the finals.

Expectations: Whenever I watch Rahim I see how Roy Jones Jr is a major influence on his style as his hand speed in close is special, unique, and not duplicated by many. When Gonzales lets go of his hands, he flurries and looks the part of an all-time great. Rahim just needs experience because his lone downfall currently is I see him putting a lot of pressure on himself, and making fights harder than they need to be at times. I see him as similar to a Malik Scott-type fighter at a lower weight moving forward, and I think that is also a fair comparison as Scott is one of the people who have been most influential in his life.

Silver Medalists

Roscoe Hill, flyweight – Roscoe Hill has so much talent in terms of timing and range control it is scary. If he turns pro and refines it, we could be looking at a generational type fighter as the raw talent ready to be developed is ahead of his peers in this regard. Hill can control range even when in lullies and not engage which is truly elite trait, and he is probably only half of the fighter he will be in his prime. Hill could be really special.

Expectations: Hill fights like Floyd Mayweather, and most say that about slick fighters, but Hill really does. Distance control, the shoulder roll, pull-right hand counter, Hill has a lot of those traits just at a lower weight class. Hill is a fighter, who could be exceptional, it just comes down to marketing, matchmaking, and also his situation and focus in the gym. With Hill, his talent will either be his success or his downfall as not many fighters have the gifts he starts with

Omari Jones, welterweight – An amazing counter-puncher, who takes a round off to get people’s timing and then typically gives people hell in rounds two and three. Jones is special, because he might not wow the average fan, but he knows how to win, and boxing is more about that than anything else. Jones feels like previous great Olympians, when interviewing him from a personality standpoint reminds me of a young Errol Spence, but fights different.

Expectations: With Jones we are looking at a fighter who has very good chance at medaling in the 2024 Olympic Games, and someone who could fight in as many as nine or ten international tournaments as an amateur. Jones is trending to be a special fighter, and his style will suited for the pros. I want to see him sustain his success for another full calander year, but I am pretty much sold on Jones being a force in world level boxing for decade or more.

None Medalists

Obed Bartee-El, light middleweight – Bartee-El should’ve been the fifth medalist from American, but was at the end of a rough decision I didn’t like. Bartee-El fought as well as I have ever seen him fight in his international debut. Bartee-El is also a story of staying with the sport of boxing itself, as other fighters drifted in-and-out of the sport, Bartee-El stayed in the USA Boxing system, and now “Radar” is looking to be someone who will be in the mix to make the 2024 Olympic team.

Expectations: Bartee-El is improving year-after-year, and is getting better with age. I think of a fighter like “Tiger” Johnson who was well groomed in the USA Boxing program, became an Olympian and will become a world-class pro boxer, as someone Bartee-El’s journey reminds me of. Bartee-El is gradually moving into the position he needs to be in, and is a very pro-ready fighter, who at times gets the bad side of decision based on clean effective punches over volume.

Vershaun Lee, light welterweight – The misfortune of fighting one of the best amateurs in the past twenty years in Andy Cruz in his second bout, after getting a KO win in his first bout internationally was a good learning experience. Vershaun Lee is the guy who can come out of this amateur system that could be like a Terence Crawford or Jaron “Boots” Ennis, a fighter’s fighter, who doesn’t talk, he lets his actions speak for himself. Lee got a true one-punch KO in the first round, and had misfortune of fighting Andy Cruz, a flamboyant showman, hailed as the current GOAT of modern amateur boxing in the second round. Lee has won every national tournament since Harley Mederos turned pro, and will be the benchmark for all of the young fighters in the country moving forward.

Expectations: Lee is going to be really good. His quiet demeanor might let him go unnoticed for awhile, but I see him as a world-level fighter, who will slowly garner his respect amongst the nation after each every tournament as I see him in the top-3 at worst, for every USA Boxing event he enters in his division, barring facing a gold medalist early in his draw.

Jordan Panthan, middleweight – Panthan is an interesting fighter, who at an accelerated age for boxing will probably be suited for the pros in 2022. Panthan was jobbed out of his lone international amateur experience as a cut 30 seconds into his bout called a halt to his fight, and sent the fighter home quickly. The result was disappointing as we learned essentially nothing about how his style will perform on the world level.

Expectations: An all-out action fighter, though not a direct comparison, Panthan reminds me of a Michael Chandler or Justin Gaethje-type, who are both UFC fighters. Fighters who do not directly fight like Panthan, but might conjure emotions similar to his future professional bouts are Arturo Gatti and Gabriel Rosado. I expect to see bout with a crimson mask, and back-and-forth action, Panthan is the type of fighter who if built right could be a very interesting contender. Not the same fighter, but having a ceiling like a Ray Mancini.

Jamar Talley, heavyweight – Talley is a really good fighter, who has only lost to the best in his weight class, who have seemingly gone pro like Najee Lopez and Darius Fulghum. Talley will more than likely have to deal with Cameron Patton over the next few years, as well as other emerging fighters, but Talley is giving strong vibes of a world level American heavyweight, who is well-conditioned and smart in the ring. Really solid international debut.

Expectations: I think Talley from this point on will be one of the best American heavyweights moving forward in USA Boxing, and should get a great chance to prove himself as a professional fighting in a division that managers and promoters are eager to sign fighters in. Talley will have all the groundwork laid via the USA Boxing system to reach his full potential.

Jonathan Mansour, lightweight – Mansour is big for his weight and has exceptional hand speed. He has won internationally, when he went via private funds and won a tournament that way. Mansour is a very awkward and will be a finalist or semi-finalist in seemingly all the USA Boxing events he enters.

Expectations: Mansour has already created a good fanbase, is from a supportive community of San Diego, California, seems to follow the mold of a promoter’s dream of a social media sensation-type fighter, who can fight. I see him as a cross between Amir Khan and Ryan Garcia, both of whom are heavily sought after professional fighters and I expect him to sign on with someone whenever he turns pro.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle