Two USA women's boxers fought in their semifinals matches on Wednesday, Flyweight Marlen Esparza and Middleweight Claressa Shields. Esparza lost a close fight and had to settle for bronze, however, Shields put on a dominant showing and will get a chance to compete for gold on Thursday.
Flyweight Marlen Esparza was in action against China's Ren Cancan, a three-time world champion who also held a three inch height advantage. Esparza found it difficult to get inside on her opponent, and soon began getting a bit wild, and winging her shots. All that did was provide Ren with ample scoring opportunities, and she held a 7-4 lead after two rounds.
Esparza settled down and tightened up her form in the third, and it worked to her advantage, as she closed the gap to 8-6. In the fourth, Ren played keep away while Marlen pressed and continued to stay aggressive. It looked like she had done enough to at least win the round, but the judges disagreed. They scored the round even, giving Ren Cancan a 10-8 win, and sending Esparza home with a bronze medal.
Esparza is the first women's boxing medal winner for the USA in Olympics history, as the ladies fight game had its inaugural run in London.
Team USA Middleweight Claressa Shields met Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan in her semifinals match. Right from the start, it was clear that Shields was the physically stronger woman, and her punches had much more thudding power.
Despite getting trapped on the ropes, she stormed off to a 5-3 lead after Round 1, and built that up to 12-8 after two. In the third, her punches began to take their toll, as Volnova tired and was also forced to take a standing 8 count. Shields didn't let up and continued attacking with her forceful combinations, going up 20-11 through three, and eventually winning by a wide 29-15 margin.
Shields will fight in the women's Middleweight division gold medal match on Thursday at 12:15 pm Eastern. The 17-year-old phenom will be favored to win her match, and is set to face Russia's Nadezda Torlopova. She is, of course, the last team member standing for USA Boxing.
Other highlights from the women's semifinals included a solid performance by British Flyweight Nicola Adams, advancing to the gold medal match.
Ireland's sensational Lightweight Katie Taylor also took the stage, and put on another dominant showing to the delight of an insane, raucous crowd. Katie Taylor appears to be the most impressive boxer in the tournament, men's or women's, thus far, and may just take home the Val Barker trophy as such.
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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