History was made in Guadalajara this year with female boxers from the North and South American continents competing at the Panamerican Games for the very first time. This watershed moment for the sport saw twenty one athletes compete in three Olympic weight classes.
The Canadian squad was in absolute top form coming into these Games with three-time AIBA World Champion Mary Spencer and three-time Panamerican Champion Mandy Bujold both acquiring gold medals in their respective Middleweight and Flyweight categories. Canada’s third team member, Lightweight Sandra Bizier took home a valuable bronze from Guadalajara. Considered as one of the world’s best female boxers, Mary Spencer has been involved with the Canadian National squad since 2004 and has collected a record number of gold medals in international tournaments. She moved up a weight class two years ago in order to realise her Olympic dream and participate in London. Following her magnificent performance in Guadalajara, she was asked to carry the Canadian flag during the closing ceremony of this 16th edition of the Panamerican Games.
Spencer’s teammate, 24-year-old Flyweight Mandy Bujold has already competed at two AIBA Women’s World Championships and had the experience to dispose of all her rivals on way to winning the title in Mexico, showcasing some of her trade-mark footwork. She has also been training in the Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy and is now dreaming of success at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The two Canadian first place finishes at these Games ensured the country was placed second in the list of gold medal winners across both the women and men’s boxing competitions after Cuba.
The third gold medal in the women’s event was won by a Puerto Rican boxer in the Lightweight category. It was an unexpected victory for 22-year-old three-time Panamerican Championships bronze medallist Kiria Tapia whose skills have come to the fore only of late. She rode her luck against USA’s No.1, AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Queen Underwood during the quarter-finals but after that, with her confidence sky-high, she comprehensively defeated all that was in her path to triumph and take gold at these Games.
The Colombian women’s spirit was exemplified by the performance of Ingrid Valencia’s who took the silver medal in the Flyweight division.
The local female boxers did very well in front of their home crowds with Erika Cruz securing a silver medal, while Nora Alma Ibarra took bronze in the Middleweights after having lost to eventual winner Spencer in the semi-finals. Dominican Republic’s only woman boxer in Guadalajara, Panamerican Champion Yenebier Guillen caused one of the biggest upsets when she eliminated Brazil’s Roselli Feitosa in the semi-finals of the Middleweight division. Multiple Panamerican Champion Paola Benavides of Argentina, who was awarded the best AMBC’s female athlete trophy two years ago, achieved bronze in Guadalajara.
Brazil’s current AIBA World Champion Roselli Feitosa moved down a weight division in preparation for the London Olympic Games but unexpectedly lost her semi-final. Her veteran compatriot, multiple-Panamerican Champion Adriana Araujo also suffered a shock defeat in her quarter-final match as she was eliminated by Mexico’s Erika Cruz.
Following the qualification events, the United States sent three female boxers to Guadalajara but none of them managed to reach the semi-finals so travelled home empty handed.
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