The United States’ Top Female Boxers to Vie for Pan American Championships Gold, October 3-7 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Sept. 23, 2008, 5:06 p.m. (ET)

(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) - Twelve of the nation's top female boxers will vie for gold at the 2008 Pan American Women's Boxing Championship, October 3-7 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The event will be the first international competition of 2008 for the women, and will provide an early test as they prepare for the World Championships later in the year. The squad will depart for Port of Spain for the event on Wednesday, October 1.

The team boasts a strong mix of veterans and newcomers to the international scene with 12 reigning national champions representing the United States in the event. Reigning Pan American champion Franchon Crews (Capitol Heights, Md.) is returning in 2008 to defend her title, but will be competing at her new light middleweight class after boxing at the middleweight division for the past three years. She will be joined in Trinidad by four fellow veterans: three-time light flyweight national champion Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas), six-time national champion and 2007 Pan American Championships gold medalist, flyweight Cheryl Houlihan (Santee, Calif.); five-time light bantamweight national champion Sacred Downing and three-time lightweight national champion Caroline Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

In addition, six U.S. Future Stars National Championship titlists will round out the United States roster. Pinweight bantamweight Cynthia Moreno (Phoenix, Ariz.); featherweight Jody Ann Weller (Pomona, N.Y.); two-time light welterweight champion Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.); welterweight champion Vanessa Jackson (Columbus, Ohio);  middleweight Meredith Della Giustina (Versailles, Ky.), light heavyweight Mioshia Wagoner (Lawrence, Kansas) and heavyweight Tiffanie Hearn (Louisville, Ky.) will all vie for their first international hardware.

The 2008 Pan American Women's Boxing Championship will open competition on October 3 at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Port of Spain, and conclude with final round action on October 7.

The U.S. team will be led by Christy Halbert (Brentwood, Tenn.), Ray Kerwick (Spokane, Wash.) and Daniel Vassar (Spokane, Wash.). Randy Richard (Opelousas, La.) will travel to Trinidad with the team as the AIBA official.

The United States claimed six medals at the 2007 edition of the event, including two gold medals and hopes to duplicate their success in 2008. The women will compete in bouts consisting of three, two-minute rounds as the international rules are different than the United States, in which they box four, two-minute rounds.

Team USA

101 lbs: Sylvia Villapando, Houston, Texas
106 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas
110 lbs: Cheryl Houlihan, Santee, Calif.
114 lbs: Sacred Downing, Trenton, N.J.
119 lbs: Cynthia Moreno, Phoenix, Ariz.
125 lbs: Jody Ann Weller, Pomona, N.Y.
132 lbs: Caroline Barry, Colorado Springs, Colo.
138 lbs: Queen Underwood, Federal Way, Wash.
154 lbs: Franchon Crews, Capitol Heights, Md.
165 lbs: Meredith Della Giustina, Versailles, Ky.
176 lbs: Mioshia Wagoner, Lawrence, Kansas
189 lbs: Tiffanie Hearn, Louisville, Ky.

Coach: Christy Halbert, Nashville, Tenn.
Coach: Ray Kerwick, Spokane, Wash.
Coach: Daniel Vassar, Spokane, Wash.
AIBA Official: Randy Richard, Opelousas, La.