MOBILE, Ala. – For 17-year-old Shawn Simpson, the U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials challengers' bracket bout on Thursday night was a chance for redemption, one night after a loss to two-time Olympian Rau'shee Warren of Cincinnati.
Simpson took no chances with Emilio Sanchez, his opponent on Thursday night, as he used foot speed and glove work, defeating the Pacoima, Calif, native 21-15.
Simpson gets a rematch with Warren in Friday night's finals.
"I fed into the crowd (when I fought Warren) and fought his fight," he said. "But tonight's win gives me a lot more confidence, and we'll think of some stuff we can use (in the finals). I knew that this kid (Sanchez) was tough and I knew if I didn't fight the right way I wouldn't face Rau'shee."
Sanchez gave Simpson problems early on with his aggressive inside style, but Simpson began to move more in the second round and utilized lateral movement and solid jabs.
"He pressured me a lot, and threw a lot of punches," Simpson said. "He came on stronger and stronger each round."
Another rematch will take place in the lightweight division between Raynell Williams and Jose Ramierez.
Williams, of New Haven, Conn., lost to Ramierez 18-17 earlier in the trials, and had to fight his way through the challengers' bracket to face Toka Kahn Clary of Providence, R.I. on Thursday night.
Clary, a boxer with excellent footwork and great hand speed, appeared evenly matched with Williams, as both put on a show. Williams broke a 9-9 first-round tie with a powerful counterpunching attack in the second and third rounds.
"Toka is a great fighter," Williams said. "When you get two skilled fighters together, they're going to put on a good show. In the second round, I went up strong and picked up the momentum. I think I'll be able to make some adjustments against Ramierez and come up with a whole new game plan."
Three more rematches highlight Friday's finals: O'Shanique Foster against Joseph Diaz, Jr. in the lightweight division; Pedro Sosa faces Jamal Herring in the light welterweight division; and Amir Imam matches up with Errol Spence in the welterweight division.
Foster will look to get even for a 29-15 loss to Diaz on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Foster defeated Tramaine Williams of New Haven, Conn. 19-13 to set up Friday's rematch. Sosa defeated Duran Caferro 22-12 to set up Friday's rematch with Herring. On Wednesday, Herring defeated Sosa, a Bronx, N.Y. native, 14-13.
Spence, the favorite in the welterweight division, defeated Imam 19-12 on Wednesday. However, Imam earned the rematch with Spence, thanks to a 31-23 win over Samuel Vasquez. Imam won because of a strong third round, where he bloodied Vasquez's nose.
Friday's rematches have another significance, if the winner from the challengers' bracket wins, a rematch will be held on Saturday. If more than four winners from the challengers' bracket win on Friday, then the Saturday rematches will start at 2 p.m.
Other winners who made it to Friday's finals included Santos Vasquez (light flyweight); Luis Arias (middleweight); Siju Shabazz (light-heavyweight) and Joseph Williams (heavyweight).
Laron Mitchell made it to the super heavyweight finals on a medical walkover.