The first round of national champions following the 2012 Olympic Games were crowned at the 2012 National PAL Championships on Saturday night at the Seagate Centre in Toledo, Ohio. All of the open division and 15-16-year-old boxers competed in final round action with 31 boxers claiming national titles. The night featured an early glimpse at many of the athletes who will vie for spots in 2016 in both men and women’s action.
Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) completed the repeat of her 2011 National PAL title with a victory over Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) in the middleweight final. Crews kept the bout close early on, but Shields stayed composed, using the tools she learned over the last year en route to an Olympic gold medal. Shields pulled away over the second half of the bout, winning a 30-19 decision over her World Championships teammate to win a second straight National PAL Title and her first championship since the 2012 Olympic Games.
Saturday was a good night for the Ellis family with brother-sister duo Rashidi and Rashida Ellis (Lynn, Mass.) both taking national titles over accomplished athletes. Rashida was up first, taking on 2012 Olympic Trials bronze medalist N’yteeyah Sherman (Barberton, Ohio) in the lightweight final. Ellis came in to the bout fresh off a win over Olympic Trials silver medalist Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) in semifinal action. Ellis got off to a quick start and Sherman was never able to work her way back into the bout. She kept her foot on the gas throughout the contest, en route to a 37-14 final decision and the lightweight title. In addition to the national championship, Ellis received the Outstanding Female Boxer award in the open division.
Rashidi’s title came in the welterweight division with Ellis battling 2012 USA Boxing National Champion Patrick Day (Freeport, N.Y.). Following in his younger sister’s winning ways, Ellis won a 25-17 decision over Day to win the welterweight crown.
The men’s light flyweight division opened competition in the final round with only two boxers in the tournament bracket. 2012 USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist Leroy Davila (N. Brunswick. N.J.) moved up one step on the medal stand, winning the light flyweight gold medal. Davila defeated 2011 USA Boxing National Championships bronze medalist Norberto Torres (Orlando, Fla.), by a 21-15 margin to take the first open division title.
In the first tournament since the departure of three-time Olympian and flyweight Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio), 2012 Olympic Trials silver medalist and Olympic Training partner Shawn Simpson (Chicago, Ill.) staked his claim on the weight division. Simpson won a commanding 36-16 decision over his fellow Windy City native, Christian Williams (Chicago, Ill.) in his second bout of the tournament to take the title. A strong third round by Simpson pushed the lead to a 20-point margin to give him the 2012 National PAL championship.
In women’s bantamweight action, multi-time national champion Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.) added yet another gold medal to her already impressive resume. Cruz faced off with Heather Han (El Paso, Texas) in the final bout. Han’s older sister, Jennifer, a member of the first-ever Women’s World Championships team guided her in the corner but she couldn’t overcome the more experienced Cruz. She won a 22-10 final decision to take the bantamweight title.
In the men’s bantamweight bout, 2012 USA Boxing National Championships bronze medalist Gary Salazar (Fresno, Calif.) took a 26-20 decision over Dennis Galarza (Orlando, Fla.) to win the 2012 National PAL title. Despite Galarza’s large height advantage, Salazar kept the pressure on en route to the bantamweight crown.
The women’s featherweight contest featured 2012 World Champion Tiara Brown (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) in her third bout of the tournament. Yet her fellow finalist and 2012 Olympic Trials flyweight participant Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) wasn’t intimidated by Brown’s resume. She kept the contest close throughout the four-round bout, but Brown pulled it out at the end, taking a 23-22 victory over Fuchs to win the featherweight title.
2012 Olympic Trials participant Kenneth Sims, Jr. (Chicago, Ill.) put an exclamation mark on a strong week of boxing in his home state. Sims faced 2012 Junior Olympic National Champion Maliek Montgomery (Macon, Ga.) in the lightweight final in one of the most entertaining bouts of the night. Both boxers boasted a tremendous workload throughout the bout with neither boxer taking a step back in the three round contest. Yet it was Sims getting the better of the exchanges and he went on to win a 34-20 final decision and the lightweight title.
2012 Junior Olympic National Champion Erickson Lubin (Orlando, Fla.) made a seamless transition to the open division at the National PAL Championships. Lubin grabbed attention throughout the week on his way to a final round match-up with 2012 USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist Julian Rodriguez (Paterson, N.J.). Lubin took control of the bout in the opening seconds and never let it go. He went on to win a 29-9 decision over Rodriguez and his first senior national title. Lubin added a second straight Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament award to his list of accomplishments with an outstanding week of boxing in Toledo.
In the men’s middleweight division, Daniel Valdivia (Tulare, Calif.) took home the 2012 National PAL Championship. Valdivia earned the title with a 21-17 win over Peter Reyes (Long Island City, N.Y.) in the middleweight final.
Former Under 19 National Champion D’Mitrius Ballard (Temple Hills, Md.) and 2012 USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist and Olympic Training Partner Steven Nelson (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) faced off in the light heavyweight championship bout. It was Ballard taking the light heavyweight title, winning a 26-19 decision over Nelson in the final round contest to claim his fourth straight National PAL Championship.
Three reigning Junior Olympic national champions won titles in the junior age group with victories on Saturday night. Toledo’s own Monica Van Pelt (Toledo, Ohio) won a convincing 35-15 decision over Gabrielle Reyna (Amarillo, Texas) in the first bout of the night, to take the light flyweight title. Two New Yorkers added another national title to their 2012 resumes as well. Featherweight Christian Bermudez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) won an 18-8 bout over Hector Bayanilla (Allentown, Pa.) in their championship bout while welterweight Edgar Berlanga (New York, N.Y.) won a 17-7 decision over Travis Jerig (Zanesville, Ohio).
2010 Youth Games participant Joshua Temple (St. Louis, Mo.) battled Christopher Campa (Saginaw, Mich.) in the heavyweight finale. Temple took his first National PAL Championship with a 17-14 victory over Campa in the second to last bout of the event.
The super heavyweights closed the event with a match-up between Olympic Training Partner Stephan Shaw (St. Louis, Mo.) and Charles Martin (Carson, Calif.). Both boxers enjoyed momentum at certain points during the bout, and Shaw looked to mount a comeback in the third, even giving Martin a standing eight count. Yet Martin claimed the final championship of the event, taking a 20-14 decision.
Source: Julie Goldsticker, Team USA