American Samoa dominates ring

ausage@samoanews.com

The American Samoa boxing team returned home with the Teuila International Boxing Championship title that they won in Apia last week.

Samoa came in as the defending champs, holding the Samoa Championship Cup.

But this time around, it would be American Samoa's turn to have bragging rights, after winning 5 out of 9 bouts against fighters from the Samoa Amateur Boxing Association (SABA).

The two-day tournament (Sept. 5-6) was held at the Tuana’imato Sports Complex.

Families and close friends gathered at the Pago Pago International Airport last Saturday afternoon, to welcome the winning team home.

The American Samoa Amateur Boxing Association (ASABA) team that represented the territory at the Teuila International Boxing Championships included 3 seasoned boxers: Falaniko Tasi, Kaisa Ioane and Mamona Tafa, and two new warriors: Keresema Tafa and Elisapeta Tuavale, a female boxer.

Head coach Sala Sanele Etuale, a former boxer that represented both Samoa and American Samoa in previous years, was excited as he spoke to Samoa News about the teams' accomplishments.

"They exceeded all my expectations and did well for a small team. There was all sorts of emotions going through my head as the team headed into the final bouts. The team dug deep and we are really happy, pleased to get the opportunity to get our hands on the trophy.”

Sala said the whole purpose of sending our local boxers to international competitions like the “2 Samoas Battle”, is to develop the young ones in the sport.

“ASABA is trying to develop young ones in boxing so that when they grow up, they are good at it,” he shared. “This is another reason why we keep having these international tournaments between the two Samoas, so that the young ones will be able to take interest in the sport.”

When asked about the next tournament for our young team, Sala said they will take a one-week break before getting together for their usual training, to prepare them for the remaining tournaments on their agenda this year, to include the upcoming Moso'oi International Boxing Championships set for next month, and the Samoa Games in Apia in December.

“Our training sessions will resume next week to prepare our team for the next challenge, and that will be a good chance for new boxers who just joined the Association last month, to train together with our seasoned boxers, those who have been in the sport for a long time,” Sala concluded.

The ASABA team dominated their bracket, winning all of their bouts and bringing home the trophy.

American Samoa’s first win in the tournament came from one of the new warriors, Keresema Tafa in the 50kg division. Tafa dominated the first 2 minutes of the first round of the match, throwing some hard punches, connecting some good combinations with his double jabs, followed by a power right hand to the body and head, which caused his opponent to fall down while holding his stomach with both hands. Tafa won by TKO when his opponent was unable to continue the fight.

For the ladies division, Elisapeta Tuavale - the lone female boxer on the team -  defeated her opponent in a unanimous decision, to win the first international amateur bout of her boxing career.

American Samoa’s third win of the night - also with a unanimous decision - came after all three judges agreed that Mamona Tafa was too good for his opponent in the 60kg division.

The local team featured prominent boxers like 2016 Samoa Games gold medalist Falaniko Tasi.

In the 65kg division, Tasi used his height and experience to dominate his final bout of the night, landing a few solid jabs on his opponent within seconds after the first bell went off.

“Not only does he know how to start strong, he finished off his opponent in the third round when he powered through and pounded his opponent with body shots until the fight was called, adding up another victory for American Samoa,” said Sala.

Tasi has an undefeated record in his amateur career. He holds 2 gold medals and a bronze from previous international boxing championships, including the 2015 Oceania Games and the Samoa Games last year, where he also took home the MVP award.

He qualified for the Youth Olympics next year in Argentina, after an outstanding performance at the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) International Sparring Competition in Australia earlier this year in May.

Adding another win to his boxing record, Tasi said he trained very hard for this fight,  and he will continue to train hard to stay in shape.

American Samoa’s last win of the night came from Kaisa Ioane, who had a remarkable final bout against a tough opponent.

According to his coach, Ioane was impressive in his form during the first and second rounds, throwing some good combinations to his opponent's body and face, followed by a deadly upper-cut, causing his opponent to stumble before the bell rang.

The four-time gold medalist continued to dominate, connecting his fast jabs with some big shots, which caused his opponent to retreat, unable to defend himself, until the final bell rang, and all three judges agreeing that he was too good to his opponent, giving him a unanimous win.

Ioane, who was fighting in the 69kg division, won 4 gold medals from previous international boxing championships, including the Oceania and the Samoa Games in Apia last December, when he knocked out both of his opponents in the semifinals and the finals to win gold for American Samoa.

The championship team includes:

MEN’S DIVISION:

1. Keresema Tafa - 50kgs (win by TKO)

2. Mamona Tafa - 06kgs (win by unanimous decision)

3. Falaniko Tasi - 64kgs (win by unanimous decision)

4. Kaisa Ioane - 69kgs (win by unanimous decision)

WOMEN’S DIVISION:

1. Elisapeta Tuavale - super heavyweight (win by unanimous decision)

Congratulations Team American Samoa!

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