(SPOKANE, WASH.) – History was made on Saturday night as the first-ever U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing crowned three champions at the Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights, Wash. The trio of talented women is now just one step away from berths in the inaugural Olympic Games for women’s boxing.
The winners bracket champions made a clean sweep on Saturday all clinching their spots without going to a second day of final round competition. Flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) became the first Olympic Trials champion in the opening bout of the night with familiar foe Tyrieshia Douglas (Baltimore, Md.). It was the third match-up between the two, following two showdowns in the USA Boxing National Championships finals. Esparza took her third straight victory over Douglas in the contest, winning a convincing 32-17 victory to win the first title of the night. 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 lightweight action, crowd favorite Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) faced Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) for the second time at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Once again, it was Underwood coming out victorious. Underwood built up a 12-8 lead after two round of boxing, but Mayer was able to pull to within three in in the third stanza. With the sounds of the crowd chanting her name in her ears, Underwood held on to her edge in a tied fourth round to win a 22-19 final decision and become the first lightweight champion at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing.
Teenage sensation Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) continued her amazing run through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in her rematch with fellow middleweight Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.). She once again got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13 points to 9 for Hemingway in the opening two rounds. She continued to build on her lead in the third to claim at 19-13 advantage with one round remaining. Hemingway could not dent her deficit and Shields went on to win a 23-18 decision. The victory gave Shields the first-ever middleweight crown and completed the trio of boxers who will vie for spots in London. Yet Shields accomplishments didn’t end there, she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament, only her second in the open division.
Esparza, Underwood and Shields will now prepare for the 2012 Women’s World Championships in China where they will need to place in the top eight to qualify for the London Olympics. In addition to the eight boxers in each weight class that will qualify in China, a tripartite commission will select an additional four in each of the three weight divisions that will advance to London.
U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing Finals Results
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas dec. Tyrieshia Douglas, Baltimore, Md., 32-17
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash., dec. Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., 22-19
165 lbs: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec. Tika Hemingway, Pittsburgh, Pa. 23-18