(SPOKANE, WASH.) – Six action-filled bouts highlighted Thursday night’s competition at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing at the Northern Quest Resort. The winners bracket competitors returned to action on Thursday to battle for a coveted spot in Saturday’s championship bout. The challengers bracket boxers took the ring as well, fighting for their tournament lives in three contests.
Flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) clinched the first berth in Saturday’s final round contest in a close bout with Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.). Esparza held the lead after every round, but Cruz kept the match close throughout all four rounds. Cruz managed to tie the bout up during the final round but Esparza quickly reclaimed the lead en route to a 13-10 final decision.
The second spot in the championship round went to Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) but it didn’t come easy. Nineteen-year-old Kent State student N’yteeyah Sherman (Barberton, Ohio) utilized her long reach and active pace to claim a one-point lead after each of the three round, but Underwood wouldn’t be denied in the fourth. Underwood kept up the pressure over the final two minutes to win a 25-24 final decision and a berth in the final bout.
Sixteen-year-old Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) has impressed the crowd throughout the tournament and Thursday was no exception. Shields battled two-time light heavyweight national champion Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.) in the winners bracket finale. Shields built up a strong 20-9 lead after three rounds and despite Hemingway’s best efforts, she couldn’t overcome her opponent’s advantage. Shields won a 23-15 decision to claim the third spot in Saturday’s championship round.
In challengers bracket action, middleweight Raquel Miller (San Francisco, Calif.) continued her surprising run by knocking off top seed Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) in the middleweight contest. Miller took control of the bout in the second round and didn’t let it go, winning a 26-15 final decision. She will face Hemingway in Friday’s challengers bracket final.
2011 National Golden Gloves champion Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) kept her Olympic dreams alive with a 23-18 victory over 2011 USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist Tiara Brown (Washington DC). Mayer will battle Sherman tomorrow night for the lightweight spot in the finals with Underwood.
In the first challengers bracket bout, two-time USA Boxing National Championships silver medalist Tyrieshia Douglas (Baltimore, Md.) won a 31-19 decision over Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) to move on to a rematch with Cruz.
The three challengers bracket final bouts will begin at 8 p.m. PT on Friday at the Pend Oreille Pavilion while the three finalists enjoy a second day off. Universal Sports will once again live stream the bouts and Friday’s action can be viewed at: http://www.universalsports.com/video/assetid=f7b8a492-bdd5-490a-b5f4-ed7dc13b96c4.html.
112 lbs/winners bracket: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas, dec. Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., 13-10
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Tyrieshia Douglas, Baltimore, Md., dec. Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas, 31-19
132 lbs/winners bracket: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash., dec. N'yteeyah Sherman, Barberton, Ohio, 25-24
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Tiara Brown, Lehigh Acres, Fla., 23-18
165 lbs/winners bracket: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec. Tika Hemingway, Pittsburgh, Pa., 23-15
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Raquel Miller, San Francisco, Calif., dec. Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., 26-15
Friday’s Challengers Bracket Bout Sheet
112 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., vs. Tyrieshia Douglas, Baltimore, Md.
132 lbs: N’yteeyah Sherman, Barberton, Ohio vs. Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif.
165 lbs: Tika Hemingway, Pittsburgh, Pa., vs. Raquel Miller, San Francisco, Calif.