Several fighters move one step closer to making Olympic team

Published 7:00 pm Monday, December 16, 2019

Naomi Graham (red) takes on Morelle McCain (blue) at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, La., Sunday, Dec.15, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Rick Hickman

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Form held on the first day of finals at the USA Boxing Olympic Trials with 10 of the 13 undefeated fighters winning to seal their spot on Team USA and move a step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Only Lupe Gutierrez, Jamar Talley and Joseph Hicks won out of the loser’s bracket to force a winner-take-all box-off fight today. Those bouts will be held at noon at the Golden Nugget.

LSU graduate Virginia Fuchs set the tone early, winning the first fight of the day against Christina Cruz to repeat as Trials champion in the women’s 112-pound class.

Fuchs and other Team USA members will advance to the Olympic Continental Qualifying tournament next year, the final stage of qualifying for Tokyo.

Joining Fuchs will be Naomi Graham, an active duty staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, who beat Morelle McCane to win the 165-pound division.

“With each fight I am doing things I didn’t know I was capable of doing,” Graham said. “I surprise myself as well as my coaches. I was able to shift into third gear, maintain it the whole fight and not lose my skill level.”

Graham said the military background helps in the ring.

“There is so much expected of me already in the Army that it is easy to transfer that into the ring,” she said. “I’m held accountable for everything as an individual. It helps me stay disciplined.”

Joining Fuchs and Graham on the women’s team will be Rashida Ellis (132), Oshae Jones (152) and the winner of today’s box-ff between Lupe Gutierrez and Andrea Medina in the 125-pound division. Medina and Gutierrez have split two fights in the Trials double-elimination tournament.

Among the male winners was Delante “Tiger” Johnson of Ohio, who beat longtime friend Freudis Rojas to win the 152-pound division.

“It’s all business in the ring, you have to put all that to the side and take care of business,” Johnson said. “He is a great fighter. I had to pressure him. He is taller than me so I had to get inside. I have been dreaming of fighting in the Olympics since I was 7 years old and now I am another step closer.”

Joining Johnson on the men’s team are Abraham Perez (114), Bruce Carrington (125), Keyshawn Davis (138), Rahim Gonzales (178) and Antonio Mireles (201 and over).

Hicks will face Javier Martinez in a box-off for the spot at 165. Talley will face Darius Fulgham for the spot at 201.

Carrington was named Outstanding Male Fighter after going 4-0 despite being the lowest-seeded fighter in his class. Ellis was named Outstanding Female Fighter. She also went 4-0.

Admission for the box-off fights is free. The three fights will begin at noon.



112 – Virginia Fuchs def. Christina Cruz

125 – Lupe Gutierrez def. Andrea Medina

132 – Rashida Ellis def. Amelia Moore

152 –Oshae Jones def. Briana Che

165 – Naomi Graham def. Morelle McCane


114 – Abraham Perez def. Anthony Herrera

125 – Bruce Carrington def. David Navarro

138 – Keyshawn Davis def. Ernesto Mercado

152 – Delante Johnson def. Freudis Rojas

165 – Joseph Hicks def. Javier Martinez

178 – Rahim Gonzales def. Atif Oberlton

201 – Jamar Talley def. Darius Fulgham

HVY – Antonio Mireles def. Jeremiah Milton