By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) – Cuba punched their way up the medal table picking up four golds and a silver in the boxing ring on Thursday but the United States continued to pull away and were closing in on 100 Pan Am Games medals after just six days of competition.
The Caribbean boxing powerhouse will feature a fighter in every men’s gold medal bout but one in Lima and are likely to add to their haul on Friday with no other nation able to match their roster of world and Olympic champions.
Leading the way on Thursday was world and Olympic champion Julio Cesar La Cruz, while world champion Lazaro Alvarez, former Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias and super heavyweight Danier Pero all also fought their way to the top of the podium.
Cuba also grabbed a gold and silver in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol to cap their best day of the Games.
Baseball may be the American pastime but Argentina rules when it comes to men’s softball and they beat the U.S. 5-0 to add Pan Am gold to the world championship title they won earlier this year.
Huemel Mata tossed a two-hitter while shortstop Gustavo Goddy drove in a pair of runs as Argentina blanked the U.S. for the third time in Lima after shutting out the Americas 3-0 in a preliminary round contest and 7-0 in the semi-finals.
While Argentina dominated on the diamond, the U.S. were on target at the shooting range where Alison Weisz took gold in the women’s 10 metre air rifle ahead of team mate Minden Miles.
Those medals brought the U.S. total at the range to 14, including six golds with the only other country to set foot on top of the shooting podium has been Cuba with four.
There was also gold at the velodrome as the cycling competition got underway with the Daniel Holloway triumphing for the United States in the men’s omnium event.
While there were no American men on the boxing card on Thursday, the United States anthem was still played at the Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao as Oshae Jones stopped Canada’s Myriam Jones to take the welterweight gold.
Not yet through the first week of the Games, the United States is running away at the top of the medal table with 36 golds and 85 medals in total. Mexico is a distant second with 16 and 54.
While the U.S. gold rush continues unabated, Trinidad and Tobago collected their first of the Games in the men’s cycling team sprint, while Mexico edged out Canada for top spot on the women’s team podium.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)