World championships standouts from Mexico, Canada and France were dominant in the 2019 Pan American Open semi-finals, yet it was a day where results granted widespread opportunity to nations across the Americas and beyond.
Mexico remains in pole position to cap of the Pan-American Open Championships as the event’s most successful team, leading the competition with 8 athletes set for the finals. Team Mexico is guaranteed a minimum of 3 gold medals with all-Mexican finals having developed in the women’s strawweight division and both men’s and women’s bantamweight divisions.
One such bout will kick off the Pan Am finals with strawweight world championships bronze medalist Nadia Vera entering the fold against national team mate Nicole Geraldo who bested the USA’s Meg Ryan via a unanimous decision in the semi-finals.
Vera enters the 2019 Pan Ams following a standout series of performances for Mexico at the 2018 Unified World Championships, with respective TKO and submission wins in Bahrain before finishing on the wrong end of a split-decision in the semi-finals to eventual gold medalist, Ukraine’s Daria Samchik.
In the men’s bantamweight tournament, junior world bronze medalist Ismael Zamora continued to showcase himself at the senior level with his second TKO win of the 2019 Pan Ams, setting up an all-Mexican final with
Agustin Guzman who pulled off an Arm-Bar submission over Colombia’s Jose Alejandro Ruiz.
After Carlos Gamboa’s quarter-final victory in the middleweight bracket, he picks up a bronze medal for Panama following elimination in the semi-finals where the last of Panama’s representatives faced defeat.
Colombia and the USA both faced split-success in the Pan Am semis, Colombia going 2-2 while the USA secured 3 wins against 2 defeats. With each having just a handful of gold medal shots, the two nation’s will slug it out in the men’s flyweight final where Israel Galvan of the USA meets Colombia’s Duvan Chacon.
USA man Angelo Rivera Jr. faces the greatest challenge of all Pan Am finalists as he targets middleweight gold, up against two-time world silver medalist, 2018 European Open and 2019 Oceania Open champion, France’s Axel Sola. Both athletes snatched arm-bar submissions in their semi-final contests.
Stepping up to middleweight, Sola is in the process of capping off his final amateur year with a full run through of the IMMAF-WMMAA continental series, building to his third world championships appearance later this year. Rivera will no doubt find confidence looking towards Sola’s 2019 Asian Open upset where, despite his highly rounded talents, the Frenchman was shut down by Bahrain wrestling specialist Ramazan Gitinov.
Canadian welterweight Jett Grande completes the lineup of the world championships medalists entering the Pan Am finals. The junior world champion is showing early promise as a senior contender, taking his second win of the tournament by submitting Jose Luis Buitrago Sanchez (Colombia) with a Kimura in the second round.
Grande faces the Czech Republic’s Mansur Soltachanov who advanced due to a disqualification of Mexico’s Daniel Sanchez. The small Czech contingent featured a trio of athletes making the long trip to the Bahamas, yet the nation will see two out of three representatives battle in the finals, Jaroslav Hrdlička faces the USA’S Kyle Cason in the men’s lightweight gold medal decider.
Hrdlička earned a unanimous decision over the USA’s Daniel Liberson in the semi-finals with Cason also taking a scorecards win over Erland Meloney (Trinidad And Tobago).
Both Trinidad and Tobago and host nation Bahamas entered the 2019 Pan Ams with inherited underdog status, facing up against experienced competition of the international IMMAF-WMMAA platform. Nevertheless, the Bahamas have clawed their way to the Pan Am finals with T&T also having a shot at a continental gold medal. The two nations will collide in the light-heavyweight final with Christian Miller targeting victory on home soil against Lashawn Sladden.
In the heavyweight division, Marcel Amann’s TKO semi-final triumph was a catalyst for home nation pride as he bested Mexico’s Victor Diaz, but that is not the last he will see of Team Mexico, with Jonathan Muamba scoring his second first round TKO to set up an daunting heavyweight finale with both revenge and Pan Am gold on the table.
By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran
For full results and finals schedule click HERE.