(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) - USA Boxing’s top female boxers arrived in Jeju, South Korea last Thursday ahead of the 2014 Elite Women’s World Championships, November 16-24. The 10 boxers, their accompanying coaches and support staff are currently getting acclimated to their home for the next two weeks and preparing for the start of competition on Sunday, November 16 at the Halla Gymnasium.
The United States boasts an experienced and decorated squad, which includes 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.), 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas), 2012 Olympian Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.), 2012 World Champion Tiara Brown (Fort Myers, Fla.), and 2012 World Championships bronze medalist Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.).
Shields has been looking forward to this event since suffering the only loss of her career at the 2012 World Championships in China. The then 17-year-old went on to win Olympic gold in London, but hasn’t forgotten the sting of her loss at her first World Championships. She added a youth world championship title to her resume last year but can win her first World Championship in Jeju.
Esparza will be competing in her fifth World Championships in Jeju, but the Olympic medalist has yet to claim the top spot on the medal stand at the elite international event. The boxing veteran relocated to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to focus fully on her training and hopes to see her efforts pay off with her first world title in Korea.
The third member of the 2012 Olympic Team faced disappointment at the 2012 event, but Underwood is no stranger to World Championships action. The 30-year-old won bronze in 2010 and will return to one of the deepest weight divisions in the tournament in her fourth World Championships competition. Like Esparza, she is a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training center and hopes to bring back a new medal to show her fellow Olympians in Colorado Springs.
Brown became only the third U.S. female ever to win World Championships gold with her victory in 2012. She is returning to featherweight action in 2014 and knows that she could face a tougher road in the first defense of her World Championships title. “It was simple at my first World Championships in China, no one really knew me so I wasn’t a threat,” she said. “This time around it's going to be much harder. People are training to beat me. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Cruz is the third USA Boxing resident athlete and like her Olympic roommates, she is zoned in on returning the medal stand. An international veteran in her own right, Cruz is returning to her second straight World Championships at the bantamweight division.
Light flyweight Alex Love (Fort Carson, Colo.) is competing in her second straight Elite Women’s World Championships as well, but she will be representing the United States in more ways that one in Jeju. Love joined the U.S. Army following her 2012 appearance in the event and the soldier athlete is proud to represent the Army’s World Class Athlete Program in Korea.
Two-time national champion Danyelle Wolf (San Diego, Calif.) has boxed in several international events in the past two years, but the 2014 Elite Women’s World Championships will be the first for the welterweight titlist.
She is not the only U.S. boxer making their event debut in Jeju. Light welterweight Destiny Chearino (Warwick, R.I.) and heavyweight Krystal Dixon (New Rochelle, N.Y.) each won their first USA Boxing National Championship earlier this year and the duo will look to replicate that success at the international level in Korea. Light heavyweight silver medalist Heidi Henriksen (St. Louis Park, Minn.) will complete the U.S. roster in her first foray in to World Championships action.
Coaches Bienvenido “Benny” Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2012 Olympic coach Gloria Peek (Norfolk, Va.), Joe Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Juan Estrada (San Diego, Calif.) are leading the United States squad at the 2014 Elite Women’s World Championships.
The athletes will close their preparatory training camp on Saturday prior to the general weigh-in, tournament draw and start of competition on Sunday. Preliminary competition is slated to run through November 20 with quarterfinal competition on November 21. All of the tournament participants will enjoy a rest day on November 22 prior to the semifinals on November 23. The world champions in all 10 weight divisions will be crowned in final round action on November 24.
For more information on USA Boxing’s squad competing in the Elite Women’s World Championships, go to www.usaboxing.org. Full information on the tournament draw will be disseminated upon completion.
USA Boxing Elite Women’s World Championships Team
106 lbs: Alex Love, Fort Carson, Colo.
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas
119 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y.
125 lbs: Tiara Brown, Fort Myers, Fla.
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, Wash.
141 lbs: Destiny Chearino, Warwick, R.I.
152 lbs: Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, Calif.
165 lbs: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich.
178 lbs: Heidi Henriksen, St. Louis Park, Minn.
178+ lbs: Krystal Dixon, New Rochelle, N.Y.