Jahmal Harvey, Joshua Edwards lead Team USA with Pan American Games gold
American Jahmal Harvey added a Pan American Games gold medal to his World Championships gold from two years ago on Friday, defeating Cuba’s Saidel Horta by unanimous decision in the 125-pound final in Santiago, Chile.
The 20-year-old from Oxon Hill, Md., was one of five American boxers to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, along with super heavyweight gold medalist Joshua Edwards of Houston, Tex., 60-kg women’s bronze medalist Jajaira Gonzalez of Montclair, Calif., women’s 66-kg silver medalist Morelle McCane of Cleveland, Ohio and women’s 50-kg silver medalist Jennifer Lozano of Laredo, Tex.
The switch-hitting Harvey outworked Horta in a rough first round which saw Horta touch the canvas several times due to wrestling. The awkward Horta knocked Harvey off balance into the ropes midway through the second round, but fortunes turned for Horta moments later when a headbutt opened up a cut underneath his left eye.
With the gold seemingly on the line in the third round, Harvey appeared to knock Horta down with a combination early in the round but it was ruled a slip instead. Harvey continued to pressure throughout the round as the badly fatigued Horta looked to hold and buy time. Harvey closed the bout with one final statement, rocking Horta with an overhand left and flurrying to the body at the final bell.
Harvey joined the 23-year-old Edwards as the first male gold medalists at the Pan American Games since Antonio Vargas won the flyweight title in 2015. Edwards, who beat Gerlon Congo of Ecuador and Fernando Arzola by unanimous decisions in earlier rounds, won the gold by walkover when the injured Abner Teixeira of Brazil withdrew from the final after qualifying for a second straight Olympics berth.
Edwards’ win makes him the first American to win super heavyweight gold at the Pan Am Games since Jason Estrada at the 2003 Games in the Dominican Republic.
A pair of Cuban legends punched their ticket to a chance at a third Olympic gold medal as Julio Cesar La Cruz won his fourth straight Pan Am gold with a 4-1 decision over Brazil’s Keno Machado in the men’s 92-kg final, and Arlen Lopez, the 80-kg boxer who defeated Brazil’s Wanderley Pereira by a 5-0 decision in the event’s final bout to win his third Pan Am gold.
La Cruz and Lopez will now have a chance to tie their compatriots Felix Savon and Teofilo Stevenson, plus Hungary’s Laszlo Papp, in the exclusive three Olympic gold medals club.
While not traditionally thought of as an amateur boxing powerhouse, Brazil’s strong showing at the Pan American Games made it the leader among the 30 Olympic qualifying quote spots with nine overall, followed by the U.S. with 5, then Cuba and Colombia with three each.
Boxers whose countries have not earned a spot at their respective continental qualifying events will have chances to qualify at the two world qualification tournaments next year, which are set from February 29-March 12 in Busto Arsizio, Italy and May 23-June 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Full men’s medalists
Gold: Yunior Alcantara (Dominican Republic)
Silver: Michael Trindade (Brazil)
Bronze: Roscoe Hill (US), Ramon Quiroga (Argentina)
Gold: Jahmal Harvey (US)
Silver: Saidel Horta (Cuba)
Bronze: Luiz Gabriel Oliveira (Brazil), Jose de los Santos (Dominican Republic)
Gold: Wyatt Sanford (Canada)
Silver: Miguel Martinez (Mexico)
Bronze: Yuri Falcao (Brazil), Alexy de la Cruz (Dominican Republic)
Gold: Marco Verde (Mexico)
Silver: Jose Rodriguez (Ecuador)
Bronze: Eduardo Beckford (Panama), Junior Petanqui (Canada)
Gold: Arlen Lopez (Cuba)
Silver: Wanderley Pereira (Brazil)
Bronze: Abraham Buonarrigo (Argetina), Cedrick Belony-Duliepre (Haiti)
Gold: Julio Cesar La Cruz (Cuba)
Silver: Keno Machado (Brazil)
Bronze: Julio Castillo (Ecuador), Bryan Colwell (Canada)
Gold: Joshua Edwards (USA)
Silver: Abner Teixeira (Brazil)
Bronze: Cristian Salcedo (Colombia), Fernando Arzola (Cuba)
Full women’s medalists
Gold: Caroline de Almeida (Brazil)
Silver: Jennifer Lozano (USA)
Bronze: Ingrit Valencia (Colombia), McKenzie Wright (Canada)
Gold: Yeni Arias (Colombia)
Silver: Tatiana Chagas (Brazil)
Bronze: Johana Gomez (Venezuela), Denisse Bravo (Chile)
Gold: Jucielen Romeu (Brazil)
Silver: Valeria Arboleda (Colombia)
Bronze: Ashleyann Lozada (Puerto Rico), Omailyn Alcala (Venezuela)
Gold: Beatriz Ferreira (Brazil)
Silver: Angie Valdes (Colombia)
Bronze: Jajaira Gonzalez (USA), Maria Jose Palacios (Ecuador)
Gold: Barbara dos Santos (Brazil)
Silver: Morelle McCane (USA)
Bronze: Charlie Cavanagh (Canada), Camila Camilo (Colombia)
Gold: Tammara Thibeault (Canada)
Silver: Atheyna Bylon (Panama)
Bronze: Citlalli Ortiz (Mexico), Viviane Pereira (Brazil)
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].