By Tom Degun

Marina Ramirez_v_Marlen_Esparza_19-10-11October 19 - The inaugural women's boxing US Olympic team trials are to take place in February with 24 fighters set to compete for just three spots at the London 2012 Games where women's boxing will make its Olympic debut on the official sports programme, it has been announced.

The location and exact date of the event has yet to be determined but 24 boxers have qualified for the event via several national competitions held across America.

"The 24 women who have qualified for the first-ever Olympic trials are all outstanding athletes that will represent our sport and country in a first-class fashion," said USA Boxing President Hal Adonis.

"They have each dedicated endless hours in the gym and made tremendous sacrifices to chase their Olympic dreams and we look forward to seeing them all compete in this historic event.

"Congratulations to all of these fine athletes who have qualified for this once in a lifetime event."

At the London 2012 Olympics, there will only three weight categories for women, which will be flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (57-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg), and the US trials will see eight women in each of the three weight categories fighting it out for the one Olympic spot in their respective category.

However, the three winners at the US Olympic trials will not automatically qualify for London 2012.

Instead, they will take the three US spots at the 2011 International Boxing Association (AIBA) Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, which get underway in May and act as the lone international Olympic qualifier for the top female amateur boxers.

The fighters who make the last eight places in China will automatically qualify for the Olympics, with an additional four boxers per weight class to be selected for London 2012 by a tripartite commission.

At London 2012, there will then be a total of twelve boxers in each of the three Olympic weight classes and the US will be hoping to make the podium spots in the English capital having traditionally been successful in the men's Olympic boxing event and producing some of the all-time great champions like Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) and Sugar Ray Leonard.

"We are looking forward to this historic event and an outstanding week of boxing at the US Olympic team trials for women's boxing," said USA Boxing's executive director Anthony Bartkowski.

"The sport has come a long way over the last decade, and the talent and skill level of these women will surprise those who haven't had a chance to see them perform before."

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