The term “Olympic Trials” suggests that the winner of such an event has qualified for the Olympics.
Not so fast, Abraham Perez and Sharahya Moreu.
Moreu and Perez, two 20-year-old amateur boxers from Albuquerque, are in Lake Charles, Louisiana this week for the USA Boxing Olympic Trials. Their respective brackets are teeming with outstanding fighters.
But even if either or both New Mexicans punch their way to victory in Louisiana, their tickets to Tokyo are not punched. The U.S. winners in 13 weight classes, eight for men, five for women, then must compete at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Americas in Buenos Aires, scheduled for March 26-April 3.
According to information published by the Tokyo Olympic Committee, five boxers in Perez’s 114-pound men’s weight class and three in Moreu’s 152-pound women’s division will qualify for Tokyo out of the Buenos Aires event. In 2016, boxers from 35 countries competed in the Americas qualifier.
Don’t talk to either of the Moreus, Sharayha or Yoruba, her father and coach, about the odds.
“I’m ready,” Sharayha Moreu said just before a final sparring session at Sanchez Brothers Boxing on Old Coors Southwest. “I’ve just got to get out there now. … I just want to go out there and show I’m able to compete at this top level with everybody else.”
Her competition this week includes Oshae Jones of Toledo, Ohio, who defeated Moreu by unanimous decision to win last year’s 152-pound national title. But two highly decorated boxers in their mid-30s have come back after a hiatus, lured by the possibility of an Olympic berth.
Danyelle Wolf, a three-time national champion, returned to the ring after a four-year absence and qualified for the Trials by winning the USA Boxing Western Qualifier in Reno, Nevada.
Mary Spencer, a U.S.-Canadian dual citizen who fought for Canada in the 2012 Olympics, is competing as an American this time around and won the Eastern Qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.
None of the above scares either Moreu.
His daughter, Yoruba Moreu said, is prepared to fight at the highest level.
“As of right now, she’s more poised (than ever),” he said. “I’ve slowed her down, and she’s making things count a little bit more.
“… If she stays focused mentally, she should win this thing, but it comes down to the mental focus. And judges; they’ve got their favorites.”
Perez, the reigning Golden Gloves champion at 114 pounds, like Moreu was a silver medalist at least year’s USA Boxing nationals. Michael Angeletti of Spring, Texas, who defeated Perez for the gold medal, is among the Albuquerquean’s competitors this week.
Fernando Martinez of Phoenix, who won national titles in 2016-17, is in the field as well. Perez has drawn Martinez in the first round.
Texan Roscoe Hill, who holds a victory over Perez by split decision in 2018, also is in the eight-man bracket.