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Boxing: Perez bypassed for Olympic selection

The term “Olympic Trials” used to mean just that, the winners of such an event having punched their ticket. In some sports, it still does.

Not, however, in boxing.

Wednesday, USA Boxing, the amateur sport’s national governing body, announced that Albuquerque’s Abraham Perez will not be the U.S. representative at flyweight (114) pounds at an Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Buenos Aires this spring — despite having won the U.S. Olympic Trials at 114 in December.

Instead, USA Boxing has selected Los Angeles’ Anthony Herrera, whom Perez defeated twice at the Trials, the second time by unanimous decision in the flyweight title bout.

Perez is listed as an alternate, meaning he has no chance to represent his country in Tokyo this summer unless Herrera, for whatever reason, is unable to make the trip to Argentina.

In determining which 13 male and female boxers would travel to Buenos Aires, USA Boxing listed three criteria: the Olympic Trials, how invited candidates performed in training at USA Boxing headquarters in Colorado Springs, and the recent Strandja international tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

In Sofia, Perez lost his second bout and was eliminated. Herrera won two bouts and earned a bronze medal, though, arguably, the Spanish boxer who defeated Perez has a stronger international resume than either of the fighters whom Herrera defeated.

Gabriel Escobar, who defeated Perez by split (4-1) decision in the second round, lost the Strandja flyweight title bout to Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov, who defeated Herrera by unanimous decision in the semifinals.

Among the 13 boxers selected by USA Boxing, nine were Olympic Trials champions. Three of the four Trials champions who were not selected did not advance as far at the Strandja as did the boxers who were chosen.

United States boxers who win their weight classes at the Buenos Aires tournament, which includes boxers from North and South America and the Caribbean nations, will qualify for Tokyo. Those U.S. fighters who don’t win in Argentina still have a chance to make the U.S. team for Tokyo by winning at a world qualifying tournament in Paris later in the spring.


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