By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The men’s boxing preliminaries of the Pan Am Games wrapped up on Monday and they were not kind to several Canadian boxers.
The qualifying round got underway on Saturday and saw three Canadians fighting for their spot in the quarterfinals.
The single elimination style bracket sees fighters dropped from the tournament after a single loss.
This was the case for two of the Canadians that first night.
The fighting kicked off with young Pg Tondo in the men’s light fly category. Tondo squared off with Yoel Finol Rivas of Venezuela and, despite his heavy hitting style, lost a unanimous decision to the Venezuelan.
Quebec native Clovis Drolet in the 75-kilogram category also saw his Pan Am run cut short with a loss to Costa Rica’s Jason Ramirez-Blanco.
The fans in attendance at the Oshawa Sports Centre – the name of the General Motors Centre during the Pan Am Games – placed their remaining hopes in men’s heavyweight Samir Elmais.
Elmais, a Windsor-native, won Canada’s first Commonwealth Games boxing gold medal since 2002 last year.
Elmais was able to pull out the win to the cheers of a delighted crowd, besting Brazilian Juan Goncalves-Nogueira.
Following his quarterfinal bout, Elmais moves on to the semifinals on Wednesday, July 22 where he will fight Deivis Julio-Blanco of Colombia.
The second day of preliminaries saw a pair of Canadians looking to keep their Pan Am medal hopes alive.
First into the ring was 19-year-old Sasan Haghighat-Joo. The BC-born boxer is one of the youngest on the Canadian team.
The youngster put on a show for the crowd who reacted with loud cheers with every landed punch. However, Sasan would leave the ring bloodied and his Pan Am Games cut short following a split-decision loss to another tough Brazilian opponent.
“It was a close fight, it could have gone either way,” he said after the match. “I should have started quicker and I think that would have made a difference in the decision.”
However, Haghighat-Joo says he doesn’t want to point fingers at the judges.
“I know when I personally lose a fight, instead of trying to look and place blame in someone else’s hands, I try and see what I could have done better,” he says. “I knew he was a tough guy, an experienced guy, but I felt like I should have taken the fight.”
Once again, Canadian fans were left with a final boxer in former Olympian Simon Kean of Quebec.
Across the ring from him was Cam Awesome of the United States.
As the match got underway, USA chants rose from the stands, but were quickly drowned out by the Canadian supporters.
The pair battled through the three, three-minute rounds, with Awesome appearing to take the first, Kean the second and the third an even match.
However, it was the American who came out on top with a split decision victory.
“It was a very tight match,” Kean said, stating he’d faced toughers opponent at the London Olympics in 2012.
“I think my tactics are good. I just have to work on it and do better than that.”