It's literally impossible to calculate the exact amount of time a fighter puts into training for the dream of representing the United States in Tokyo. The hours in the gym before and after work or school. The millions of sit-ups, pull-ups, endless smacks on the speed bag, hours pounding the heavy bag. It's a lifestyle it is, this training for the Olympics that goes on around the clock in an athletes life to the point it's all he knows. Every spare hour, or minute is devoted to winning, every waking moment.

And it can unexpectedly and instantaneously all come to an end in a millisecond with the fuzzy flash of an opponents solid left hook or the jarring report of an unseen right uppercut.

And Thursday night in the Lake Charles Civic Center time was up for some of those dedicated boxers who were eliminated from the tournament. But for the winners, Olympic Dreams of marching into that stadium in Tokyo under the flaming torch in next summer's opening ceremony remained vividly alive.

In the Women's Division

Alexis Gomez of San Francisco, Calif. started the night off with a unanimous decision victory over Melody Popravak of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the women’s 165 lbs. division. After losing her first bout of the tournament last night, Gomez continues her climb back to the winner’s bracket with a matchup with Popravak, who won by walkover against Kendra Reeves from Twin Falls, Idaho.

The women’s 125 lbs. division featured a matchup of two early favorites as top seeded Yarisel Ramirez Las Vegas, Nev. squared off against two seed Isamary Aquino from San Antonio. Aquino was deemed the winner in an impressive 3-1 decision victory. Aquino will have to continue to prove that she belongs in the tournament tomorrow when she will meet Iyana Verduzco Los Angeles, Calif. who celebrated a unanimous decision win over Melanie Costa  from Norton, Mass.

Aquino thought two days rest put a little rust in her game but said: I got off to a rough start at the beginning of the tournament. With two day’s rest, I was able to get the win now. Now it’s time to do what I came here to do. I came in a little nervous. I had to shake off a little rust.

Vengeance Was the Word in the Men's Division

The men’s 201+ lbs. division was one of redemption Thursday evening as both competitors that lost Wednesday night, Kenyon Walker fighting out of San Antonio, and Luis Alvarado of Kenosha, WI., avenged their losses. Walker defeated Domonic Okopie  of Houston, in a 4-1 decision while Alvarado bested Pryce Taylor from Brooklyn, N.Y. by unanimous decision.

In the men’s 178 lbs. division, Nasheed Smith from our nations capital, Washington, D.C. continued to avenge his first-round loss as he secured his second straight victory, a unanimous decision win over Chavon Davis of Mansfield, Ohio. In the next round, Smith will meet Orville Crooks from Brooklyn, N.Y., who avenged his loss yesterday with a 4-1 decision win over Francis Oran from Allentown, Pa.

After the fight Nasheed Smith remarked to those gathered: Beginning of the week, I started off a little slow, I think, as the fights have gone on, I’m progressing very good. Now I’m winning these fights.

Time will tell as the preliminary excitement continues in the Lake Charles Civic Center, the finals at the Golden Nugget on the 15th. For complete schedules, times and ticket information click here.

If you've been holding back, hitting Christmas parties, shopping, helping around the house, licking the bowl when the cookie dough is being made, you're missing a lot of top notch amateur boxing excitement from the best talent across the United States.

If you're not at the Civic Center watching these youngsters compete for a chance on the big stage in Tokyo next summer you're missing both the excitement of amateur competition and an up-close look at tomorrows boxing stars. And the closer to the finals the more intense the competition gets, see you at the fights.

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