Rule changes bring professional vibe to amateur championships

A new era of amateur boxing begins Monday in Spokane, Wash., where USA Boxing’s National Championships will be contested under new rules.

No headgear will be used in the Elite Division, and a 10-point-must scoring system, similar to the one used in the pros, will be implemented in all divisions.

The system replaces the computer-style scoring that had been in place for 20 years. It still will use five judges seated at ringside, and three of the five scores will count. A random selection of which scores will count will be determined by numbered pingpong balls, and judges won’t know until after the bout whether their scores were used.

The system was approved last week by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the sport’s world governing body, and will be used at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Dawn Barry, who has been active in amateur boxing locally and nationally for more than 30 years, said the changes were necessary, but she wanted them to be thought out more clearly.

“I think it’s going to create more confusion and more controversy,” Barry said. “If you want to do it like the professionals, then do it like the professionals. If you have five judges, use five judges. If you use three judges, fine. This random picking three of five judges doesn’t make sense.

“Either put your foot in the water or take it out. But don’t just dangle your toes in it.”

Barry isn’t sure the elimination of headgear is a good idea, either.

“I don’t care what they say. They haven’t proven that not using headgear is safer,” she said. “You’re going to have more injuries from head butts and punches. At least the headgear helped offer you some protection.

“This is all AIBA-driven. They want to get into the pro game so badly. They want to make it similar but not the same. And that doesn’t make sense to me.”

Las Vegas will be well represented at the nationals, which run through Saturday. In the Youth Division, Timothy Lee will compete at 152 pounds, and Sharif Rahman is entered at 165.

In the Senior Men’s Division, which will use headgear, Kinyatta Corley is entered at 178 pounds and Hasim Rahman Jr. will fight at 201 (heavyweight). J’Von Wallace of North Las Vegas is entered at super heavyweight (over 201).

In the Elite Division, where no headgear will be used, Las Vegas’ Francisco Esparza and Henderson’s Anthony Ibanez are entered at 132 pounds, Las Vegas’ Yul Abragan and Ladarius Miller are fighting at 141, and Javonta Charles is competing at heavyweight.

A total of 478 athletes are entered for the nationals, the first major post-Olympics event for American boxers.

■ UNLV TO NATIONALS — UNLV will be represented by senior Dinh Thai (119 pounds) and junior Jay Doh (125) in the National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships.

The event runs Thursday through Saturday at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Conn. Air Force is the defending champion.

■ COSMO CARD — Golden Boy Promotions has scheduled a card at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on May 3, the night before Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s welterweight title fight against Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden.

A fight between super featherweights Francisco Vargas (15-0-1, 12 knockouts) and Jose Aguiniga (33-0, 15 KOs) headlines the Cosmopolitan card. They will be fighting for the NABF title, recently vacated by Las Vegas’ Diego Magdaleno.

Former U.S. Olympians Errol Spence Jr. and JoJo Diaz also are on the card. Spence will fight in a six-round welterweight bout and Diaz in a six-round junior featherweight bout. Their opponents have yet to be determined.

Fox Sports Network and Fox Deportes will televise the card.

Tickets, priced at $30, $60 and $100, go on sale Wednesday through Ticketmaster and at and

Contact reporter Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.