With the news that Lightweight women's boxer Queen Underwood will be joining the USA boxing team for London via an invitational entry to the tournament, the US women's boxing squad is now set. They have strong representation in all three of the women's divisions for the London 2012 games.
The London 2012 Olympics will be the first to showcase women's boxing. As opposed to the men's side, which houses 10 divisions, the women will be competing in three weight classes: Flyweight (51 kgs - 112 lbs), Lightweight (60 kgs - 132 lbs) and Middleweight (75 kgs - 165 lbs). Combined with the fact that there will be just 12 women in each of the three divisions, berths for the tournament have been very hard to come by, even for top rated, highly regarded fighters.
In addition to Underwood, the Lightweight representative, Claressa Shields will be competing for team USA at Middleweight, and Marlen Esparza will be fighting for the United States at Flyweight.
Esparza, from Houston, Texas, is ranked by the AIBA at number 6 in her weight class. She's deeply experienced, winning six national championships, and taking home a bronze at the 2006 World championships. She'll be turning 23 just prior to the Olympics.
Shields, just 17 years old, hails from the fighting town of Flint, Michigan. She's currently ranked at number 12 in her division.
Underwood, 28 and from Seattle, Washington, is a five time national champion, and won a bronze at the 2010 Worlds. She routed her first two opponents at the 2012 Worlds, however, she then lost a razor-thin, one point decision to Norway's Ingrid Egner in her next fight, leaving her just short of qualification.
Still, as the next highest finisher left out of the Olympic field, she got her ticket punched to London. Underwood is currently rated 10th in the Middleweight division.
All three USA women's boxers are strong medal contenders at London 2012. The British and Russian squads are the only other teams in the field to have entrants in all three women's divisions.
With the three women, Team USA Boxing has a total of 12 members, out of a possible 13. That makes the United States the largest boxing squad in the field at London 2012. The only division that the USA does not have a representative for is Men's Light Flyweight.
The preliminary rounds of women's boxing tournament at the London 2012 Olympics will take place on August 5 and 6, with the semifinals taking place on August 8, and the gold-medal matches being contested on August 9.
All fights will be held at the ExCel, the largest venue at the Games, and host to five different Olympic events.
Sources: TeamUSA.org, AIBA.org, London2012.com
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- London 2012 Olympics