By Carlos Alvarez
Local boxer Joseph Diaz Jr. of South El Monte and the rest of the USA Boxing Team’s hopes of capturing gold in London begins today with first round bouts.
Diaz, who likes to be called “JoJo,” takes on favored Pavlo Ishchenko of the Ukraine in the bantamweight division. Although Ishchenko is heavily favored, Diaz Jr. says that he is ready after training hard to get to the Olympics.
Diaz, a southpaw fighter is a former two-time reigning national champion at bantamweight. If Diaz advances to the next round, he will face the division’s top seed from Cuba.
Led by the first three-time Olympian in U.S. boxing history, and the only American boxer seeded in the 2012 Olympics, Raushee Warren of Cincinnati, Ohio, is Team USA’s best hope, on paper, to avenge their 2008 Olympic showing.
Team USA’s Deontay Wilder captured the only boxing medal in the Beijing Olympics, the heavyweight division bronze.
In the middleweight division fight, USA boxer Terrell Gaushal of Cleveland, Ohio, takes on Armenian Andranik Hakobyan today.
Gaushal advanced to the Olympics by winning the gold medal in the 2012 Americas Olympic Qualifier Tournament. Gaushal’s bracket included 19 national champions from North, Central and South American countries.
In the Super Heavyweight (201 lbs.) division, Alhambra resident Dominic Breazeale will take on Magomed Omarov of Russia on August 1st in a first round match.
Breazeale qualified for the London Olympics after advancing to the final in the Olympic Qualifier in Rio de Janeiro, where he lost to Italo Perea of Ecuador.
Women’s boxing makes its Olympic debut next week.
The USA is represented by Marlen Esparza of Houston, Texas who drew a first-round bye in the flyweight (112 lbs.) division.
Also, Claressa Shields of Flint, Mich. in the middleweight (165 lbs.) division and Quanitta “Queen” Underwood of Seattle, Wash. in the lightweight (132 lbs.) division.
Other Team USA boxers include Jose Ramirez (Lightweight Division), Errol Spence (welterweight division), Marcus Browne (light heavyweight), Jamel Herring (light welterweight), and Michael Hunter II (heavyweight).