(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – The United States national anthem was a commonly heard tune on Sunday at the 2013 Women’s Continental Championships in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Team USA won eight gold medals in final round action of the continental tournament, which featured top female athletes from north, central and south America. The 2013 Women’s Continental Championships total topped the 2012 U.S. medal count of six gold medals.
Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) added yet another international medal to her ever-growing list of accolades with a win in her flyweight championship bout with Brazil’s Clelia Marquez. Esparza won her third bout of the tournament, taking a 20-11 decision over Marquez to defend her Continental Championships title.
Bantamweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.) had to settle for a bronze medal at the 2012 event, but she stepped up two spots on the podium in the 2013 edition. Cruz faced off with Argentina’s Leonela Sanchez in the bantamweight championship bout and she emerged victorious, winning a 13-11 decision to take the 2013 Women’s Continental Championships crown.
International newcomer Jennifer Hamann (Seattle, Wash.) duplicated the efforts of her much more experienced teammates in the featherweight finale against Argentina’s Karen Carvajal. Hamann wasted no time in winning her first international gold, taking an 18-15 decision over Carvajal to add a Women’s Continental Championships title to her resume.
2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) boasted the longest road in the tournament to her gold medal at the 2013 Women’s Continental Championships. Competing in the deepest weight class in the event, Underwood boxed every day of the event en route to a lightweight final round match-up with Argentina’s Dayana Sanchez. Underwood earned a 19-11 decision over Sanchez to win Continental Championships gold after falling short of the medal stand in the 2012 event.
Light welterweight Bertha Aracil (Yonkers, N.Y.) won her third double-digit victory of the tournament in a final round contest with Canada’s Sara Kali. Aracil earned an 18-6 decision over Kali in championship round action to win her first major international title and the fifth gold medal of the afternoon for Team USA.
The U.S. winning streak rolled into the welterweight title bout between Danyelle Wolf (San Diego, Calif.) and Brazil’s Jessica Carline. Wolf won a 17-5 decision over Carline to claim welterweight gold.
Light heavyweight Tiffanie Hearn (Oxnard, Calif.) returned to the international scene for the 2013 Women’s Continental Championships and she made her return a successful one with a gold medal. Hearn faced off with Claude Bergeron of Canada in the light heavyweight title bout and she won a convincing 19-6 decision over her Canadian foe to claim Team USA’s seventh gold medal.
In heavyweight action, Denise Rico (Los Angeles, Calif.) won her first major international title with a victory in the Women’s Continental Championships heavyweight final. Rico won a 23-4 victory over home nation boxer Diosmary Matutes of Venezuela to take heavyweight gold.
Middleweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) dropped her championship bout to the Dominican Republic’s Yeneiber Guillen, 15-7, to claim a silver medal. Light flyweight Elisha Halstead (Philadelphia, Pa.) took home a bronze medal from the event to bring the U.S. medal count to 10.
2000 U.S. Olympic Coach Israel Acosta (Milwaukee, Wis.), Benny Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.), and Eugene Hart (Philadelphia, Pa.) served as the U.S. coaches for the 2013 Women’s Continental Championships.
The United States’ medal haul in Venezuela brings the total medal count over the recent three international events to 26, including 16 gold medals. The elite men traveled to Puerto Rico today for the Cheo Aponte Tournament and Olympic Cup and will aim to duplicate the impressive efforts of their teammates when they take the ring.
U.S. Championship Round Results
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA, dec. Clelia Marquez, BRA, 20-11
119 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y./USA dec. Leonela Sanchez, ARG, 13-11
125 lbs: Jennifer Hamann, Seattle, Wash./USA dec. Karen Carvajal, ARG, 18-15
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash./USA dec. Dayana Sanchez, ARG, 19-11
141 lbs: Bertha Aracil, Yonkers, N.Y./USA dec. Sara Kali, CAN, 18-6
152 lbs: Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, Calif./USA dec. Jessica Carline, BRA, 17-5
165 lbs: Yeneiber Guillen, DOM, dec. Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md./USA, 15-7
178 lbs: Tiffanie Hearn, Oxnard, Calif./USA dec. Claude Bergeron, CAN, 19-6
178+ lbs: Denise Rico, Los Angeles, Calif./USA dec. Diosmary Matutes, VEN, 23-4