Puerto La Cruz Waits for Top American Female Boxers

May 16, 2013, 6:32 p.m. (ET)

Story written by Tibor Kincses with original post on the AIBA website.

Last year's AMBC Women's Continental Championships in Canada saw the US squad return home with six gold medals while Brazil bagged three and Canada won one gold. Will the US continue its domination this time round? This year athletes from 15 nations will be participating, namely: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, the United States and hosts Venezuela.

The US National Women's Team looks strong again this year, the team has been preparing for the event with coaches Benny Roman and Eugene Hart and are entering with the full 10-member quota. Their line-up includes: London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Marlen Esparza, London 2012 Olympian Queen Underwood, AIBA Women's World Championships silver medallist Franchon Crews and AIBA Women's World Championships bronze medallist Christina Cruz.

Canada is also entering a formidable team. Their top woman fighter, three-time AIBA World Champion Mary Spencer may have competed in the London 2012 Games but she had a disappointing tournament, losing her opening contest. The 29-year-old Canadian star is now looking for redemption in Puerto La Cruz. Meanwhile Canada's number one ranked  Flyweight and Pan-American Champion Mandy Bujold secured a silver medal at the Feliks Stamm Memorial Tournament in Poland last month while other team members such as Kim Klavel, Vicky Pelletier, Stephanie Walker, Myriam Da Silva and Maude Bergeron are also strong favourites in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Boxing Federation organised a training camp in the city of Cumana before the event, in which athletes from Brazil, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Peru took the opportunity to get some extra elite level sparring practice.

Brazil's new female squad will be hoping that the extra sessions will pay dividends for the likes of Clelia Costa, the current continental titleholder at Bantamweight. Aline Silva and Daniele Bastieri are also hot prospects for the South American country, who are building up to a home Olympics in this cycle.

Another boxer to watch out for is Puerto Rico's best female fighter, Kiria Tapia, who won the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara in 2011. Unable to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, her coach José Laureano is taking her through an advanced training program and is expecting an excellent result during this event.