The final day of the 2018 Youth World Championships in Budapest, Hungary was another golden day for Team USA, as both Heaven Garcia (El Monte, Calif.) and Asa Stevens (Waianae, Hawaii) won the female and male flyweight titles.
Stevens began the final day of boxing in the first bout against 2018 European Champion Ivan Price of England. Leading up to this showdown, Stevens and the USA Boxing coaching staff worked on a plan that would result in victory.
“The past three days we were creating a game plan of keeping distance and doing a lot of faints,” said Stevens after his gold medal performance. “I feel like we utilized it very well and that is how I got the win.”
The flyweight boxed a total of five times through the 11-day tournament, which included a split decision win over Patrick Clancy (Ireland), unanimous decision wins over Ibrahim Boukedim (France) and Samandar Kholmurodov (Uzbekistan), as well as a split decision win over Bhavesh Kattimani (India) in the semifinals. His unanimous decision victory today over Price earned him his first World Championship title and the first youth flyweight title since Shakur Stevenson in 2014.
“This means a lot, no words can really explain how I feel,” stated Stevens. “This is the best feeling in the world.”
Garcia picked up her second World Championships title to add to her 2015 Junior World Championship title with her 4-1 split decision victory over India’s Anamika.
“My game plan was to use my jab and use that as a key,” said Garcia. “I wanted to also work in the body shots and wear her down with those and plenty of combinations.”
Like her teammate, Garcia boxed a total of five days in a grueling bracket that included three bouts in a row. Her victories included a split decision over Hatice Akbas (Turkey) in the opening round, unanimous decision wins over Rinka Kinoshita (Japan) and Simran Kaur (England), as well as her rematch with Zhanssaya Abdaimova (Kazakhstan) by split decision in the semifinals.
Garcia’s win today adds her to a list of female American boxers that have won multiple amateur world titles that includes JaJaira Gonzalez and Claressa Shields. Garcia is the first American to win both a junior and youth world title since Gonzalez did so in 2013 and 2014/2015. Garcia will also look to join Gonzalez in the record books with a win at this October’s Youth Olympics.
“This win feels great because it was harder than my first title in 2015,” continued Garcia. “Everyone is older and more experienced at this level, and I worked very hard to get to the top spot.”
Following the conclusion of the tournament, Augie Sanchez (Las Vegas, Nev.), Team USA’s Head National Junior and Youth Coach, was awarded Best Coach of the Tournament honors, while Isamary Aquino (Universal City, Texas) was awarded her bronze medal during the medal ceremonies.
“I am very happy with the team,” said Sanchez at the end of the competition. “It was the whole staff that made this happen, and I am happy how our team performed overall.”
Team USA will begin their return home tomorrow with a total of three gold medals and one bronze after ten intense days of boxing. This year’s tournament brought over 350 boxers from over 50 countries from around the World. Joining Sanchez in the boxers corners throughout the tournament were assistant coaches Timothy Back (Cincinnati, Ohio), Eliza Olson (Redwood, Calif.) and Rosario Solis (Irving, Texas).
Team USA Results
51 kg: Heaven Garcia, El Monte, Calif./USA, dec. over Anamika/IND, 4-1
52 kg: Asa Stevens, Waianae, Hawaii/USA, dec. over Ivan Price/ENG, 5-0