American women's boxing trio close in on London 2012 Olympics
Saturday, 18 February 2012
February 18 - Three of America's best female boxers have closed in on a spot at London 2012, where the women's version of the sport will make its official debut on the Olympic programme, after securing victories at the inaugural women's United States Olympic team trials at the Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights, Washington.
At the Olympics, women's boxing will feature in the three categories of flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (57-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).
Marlen Esparza (pictured above left), Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields triumphed in the respective weight classes at the historic event.
Flyweight Esparza became the first Olympic trials champion as the Texan defeated rival Tyrieshia Douglas with a convincing 32-17 victory.
After building a 14-10 lead at the midway point in the bout, Esparza blew it up open in the third, scoring 12 points to take a commanding 26-14 into the final two minutes.
In the lightweight action, home favourite Underwood delighted the Washington crowd as she narrowly beat Mikaela Mayer 22-19 to be crowned champion in her weight category.
Teenage sensation Shields became the third and final Women's US Olympic team trials champion as the highly-rated boxer from Michigan defeated Tika Hemingway 23-18 to win the middleweight category.
Shields got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13-9 lead in the opening two rounds before building on her lead in the third to claim a 19-13 advantage with one round remaining and then closing the show in style.
Yet Shields accomplishments did not end there as she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament.
The victories mean that Esparza, Underwood and Shields will now go to the 2012 International Boxing Association (AIBA) Women's World Boxing Championships later this year in Qinhuangdao, China.
The competition, which takes place from May 9 to 20, will serve as the sole qualifier for London 2012 with the top eight in each of three categories set to go to the Olympics.
In addition to the eight boxers in each weight class that qualify for the Olympic Games in China, a Tripartite Commission will select an additional four wildcard entries in each of the three weight divisions that will advance to London 2012.