Saturday, June 10, 2023  |



Balderas wins US Olympic debut and Hernandez wins in afternoon

Fighters Network
Photo courtesy of USA Boxing

Photo courtesy of USA Boxing

Carlos Zenon Balderas Jr., who caught Olympic fever in 2004 when he first watched swimmer Michael Phelps win gold, took a step toward replicating that memory on Saturday when he won USA Boxing’s first fight in Saturday morning’s session.

And Nico Hernandez, a light flyweight from Wichita, Kansas, followed that up with a unanimous decision win in the Saturday afternoon session against Italy’s Manuel Cappai for a 2-0 start for the American boxers.

In a stunner, former professional middleweight titleholder Hassan N’Dam dropped his Olympic opener to Brazil’s Michel Borges by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Balderas, who turned 20 on Thursday, captured a close decision against Kazakhstan’s Berik Abdrakhmanov at the Rio Olympic Games by judge’s scores of 29-28 in front of a large rooting contingent. The second round was his strongest when he stunned Abdrakhmanov with right hands. The resident of Santa Maria, California advanced to face Japan’s Daisuke Narimatsu on Tuesday after Narimatsu moved on with a split decision against Venezuela’s Luis Cabrera.

Hernandez, 20, picked it up after a sluggish first round to bring the fight to Cappai, winning a decision by judge’s scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Hernandez will now face second-seeded Russian Vasily Egorov on Monday.

USA Boxing is in need of a pick-me-up this summer after failing to win gold in the two previous Olympics, not since Andre Ward won gold in 2004. Italy’s Carmine Tommasone, who is 15-0 as a professional, also reached the second round with a points win against Mexico’s Lindolfo Delgado in the morning session.