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Canadian Terris Smith moves on with win at Olympic boxing qualifier in Bangkok

BANGKOK — Canadian boxer Terris Smith defeated Bulgaria's Aslahan Mehmedova 3-0 on points in their round-of-16 bout Monday to advance at a last-ditch Olympic qualifying tournament.
Canada's Keven Beausejour, right, is shown in action during the men's light heavyweight quarterfinal boxing bout against Scotland's Sean Lazzerini at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Beausejour lost 3-2 to Japan's Go Wakaya in round-of-16 action in the men's 80-kilogram class in an Olympic qualifying tournament on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira

BANGKOK — Canadian boxer Terris Smith defeated Bulgaria's Aslahan Mehmedova 3-0 on points in their round-of-16 bout Monday to advance at a last-ditch Olympic qualifying tournament.

The 31-year-old from Victoria moves on in the women's 60-kilogram division at Haumark Stadium.

"Terris followed the game plan perfectly," said Canada coach Samir (Sammy) El Mais. "She was able to cut the ring perfectly and land her rear hand with authority. … Her confidence showed and now everyone knows she's a threat."

Smith will face Britain's Amy Boardhurst on Wednesday.

Also Monday, Montreal's Keven Beausejour, 24, lost 3-2 to Japan's Go Wakaya in round-of-16 action in the men's 80-kilogram class.

"Keven's bout was very close and just shy of the win," said El Mais. "He adjusted superbly in the third round winning it unanimously, but ultimately just fell just short of closing the gap. We couldn't ask more from Keven. He left everything in the ring — I'm so proud of his performance."

On Sunday, Junior Petanqui defeated Shain Boniface from the Seychelles in a round-of-32 bout in the men's 71-kilogram division. The 25-year-old from Montreal earned a 5-0 decision in his round-of-32 bout.

On Tuesday, Petanqui faces Armenia's Gurgen Madoyan and Scarlett Delgado, a 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., meets Kenya's Amina Faki in round-of-16 action in the women's 54-kilogram class.

Canadian Victor Tremblay lost via walkover Friday after failing to make weight for his first fight in the 57-kilogram bracket. The 19-year-old from Montreal is remaining with the team.

Nine Canadians entered the Bangkok tournament trying to fight their way into this summer's Olympic field.

Canada has already qualified two boxers for Paris, which features 13 weight classes — seven for men and six for women.

The number of Olympic boxing divisions for men has gone down by one while the women's competition has added one since Tokyo. But there will parity in total numbers of athletes with 124 men and 124 women.

Middleweight Tammara Thibeault (75 kilograms) and welterweight Wyatt Sanford (63.5 kilograms) secured their Olympic berths via gold-medal performances at last year's Pan American Games. Both were members of Canada's five-boxer team for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Bangkok qualifier, which runs through June 3, will determine the final 51 quota places (23 for women and 28 for men) for the Paris Games.

Olympic boxing qualification comes in the form of several steps.

The first were five continental qualifiers, with the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, covering the Americas. A first World Qualification Tournament was then held in Busto Arzizio, Italy, from Feb. 29 to March 12.

Competitors essentially had to finish in the top four in Italy to secure Olympic qualification, although that figure varied in some weight classes. Canada had two athletes finish in the top eight — Delgado and super-heavyweight Alexis Barriere, who subsequently opted to focus on a pro career.

Just making the Olympic field is an accomplishment, given the sport's popularity around the world and the fact each country can have no more than one competitor in a weight class. More than 75 countries took part in boxing at the Tokyo Games.

Competitors will again need to crack the top four in Bangkok to punch their ticket to Paris. That measuring stick can change, however, given host France is guaranteed a maximum of six quota places (three for women and three for men) so a country can claim a spot in a weight class even if it doesn't qualify a fighter.

That means some weight classes may require a top-three finish for Olympic qualification. It could also become top five if an already qualified competitor is injured or suspended.

There will be no title bouts at the Bangkok event, with action in each weight class coming to a halt when the final Olympic berths are determined.

Canada has won 17 Olympic boxing medals (three gold, seven silver and seven bronze), but none since 1996 when heavyweight David Defiagbon won silver in Atlanta.

The Paris boxing competition runs July 27 to Aug. 1 in the North Paris Arena and Roland-Garros Stadium.

The Olympic qualifying events were organized under the authority of the Paris 2024 Boxing Unit (PBU), an ad hoc group created by the International Olympic Committee's executive board. The PBU was tasked with overseeing qualifying and running the boxing competition at the Games following the IOC's suspension and the subsequent withdrawal of recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024.

The Canadian Press