Two American female boxers, flyweight Marlen Esparza, of Houston, and middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Mich., secured medals in London with victories in their quarterfinal fights. The 23-year-old Esparza earned a 24-16 victory over Venezuela’s Karla Magliocco, while Shields had to come from behind in order to defeat Sweden’s Anna Laurell.
Esparza had control of her fight from the opening bell, gaining a 14-8 lead after two rounds en route to a 24-16 final decision. The victory over Magliocco advances Esparza to a semifinal bout with reigning world champion Ren Cancan of China on Wednesday.
Esparza was relieved that she secured at least a bronze medal, but she knows the significance of advancing further: “In the US, if it’s not gold, it’s not good enough,” she said, “so I’m trying to get a gold. That’s really what I want.”
Shields added to her reputation as a teenage phenom by defeating two-time World Champion Laurell in her quarterfinal fight. Laurell took early control with a 4-2 lead after the first round, but Shields fought back and tied the bout at 12-12 after two. The final round turned decisively in Shields’ favor, as she sent Laurell reeling into a standing eight count with a body shot and hook combination.
The final score was 19-14 in Shields’ favor, and the young American will now face Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova in the semifinals. Shields isn’t shy about her desire to finish with a gold medal, and she doesn’t feel that she has already fought her best fight:
“I feel that I can do better but I definitely feel like I don’t fight like a girl,” said Shields. “I feel like I went out there and proved a point. I’m going to keep proving that point until I get to that gold medal.”
Whether or not Shields and Esparza will succeed in their quest for gold is still to be determined, but they can sleep tonight knowing that they will not be leaving London without at least a taste of bronze.