Women's boxing took center stage on Monday, as the quarterfinals for all three weight classes were held. In action were team USA women's boxers Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields, as well as the exceptional Katie Taylor of Ireland.
First up for team USA was Flyweight Marlen Esparza against Venezuelan Karlha Magliocco. Esparza had a bye in the first round, so this was her opening match of the tournament.
Magliocco started the fight was the aggressor, but it was clear that Esparza was the superior technician. She picked her shots and tagged Magliocco as she tried to get inside, displaying solid defense and a crisp jab with well-rounded skills. Esparza cruised to a 24-16 decision to advance to the next round of the tournament.
Laurell is a former two-time world champion, and at about 6 feet tall, towered over the American teenager. That size proved to be a major challenge for Shields in the early going of the fight, and the Swedish fighter took the first round by a 4-2 margin.
In the next two rounds though, Shields figured out a way to get inside. She would lead with an overhand right, and then step in behind that to get close. The right hands kept on landing, and Shields began to take control of the fight, evening the score to 12-12 heading into the third.
The final round was all for the American, as Shields asserted herself, outworked Laurell and landed the cleaner, stronger shots. She clearly won the round, and took home the fight with a final score of 18-14.
The fight that stole the show for the ladies though was a Lightweight contest between Ireland's Katie Taylor and Britain's Natasha Jonas. Jonas was coming off an exciting, hard-fought win over team USA boxer Queen Underwood, while Taylor, widely viewed as the best women's amateur boxer on the planet, had a bye in the opening round.
Taylor vs. Jonas was an exciting, fast-paced contest. The crowd was going wild from start to finish, and the two women were competing at a very high level.
Katie Taylor though was simply at another level, displaying sharp, smooth combinations, along with powerful, thudding shots and quick hands. She took home the decision by a 26-15 margin in a match which could have perhaps been for the gold medal had the draw been different.
Other highlights for the ladies on Monday included a win by China's three-time world champion, Ren Cancan; a strong showing by British Flyweight Nicola Adams; and surprising upset losses for British Middleweight Savannah Marshall and Canadian Middleweight Mary Spencer.
Sources: AIBA.org, NBC Olympics Coverage
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Jake Emen runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing, including a complete guide to the London 2012 Olympic Boxing competition, as well as exclusive stories and special features on the Games at the site.
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