Triumphant Flyweight Virginia Fuchs (l) and Middleweight Claressa Shields have won their respective finals at the 2015 Olympic Trials in Memphis, TN. They have earned the right to compete at the Continental Olympic Qualifier in 2016 as USA Boxing Olympians. Photo Credit: USA Boxing
Flyweight contender Virginia Fuchs had her night of relentless technical execution and determination that led to the 2-1 unseating of the 2012 bronze medalist Marlen Esparza.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist in the middleweight division Claressa Shields had her 3-0 night, fending off her challenger, Tika Hemingway, who’d loudly proclaimed that she’d take it from her. Shields had other plans and after outboxing Hemingway with an impressive performance, became the United States only two-time female boxing Olympian.
Lighweight Jajaira Gonzales (l) lives to fight another day against Mikaela Mayer. The box-off is set for 4:00 PM on Sunday, November 1 at the Cook Convention Center South Hall in Memphis, TN. Photo Credit: USA Boxing
And lightweight upstart, 18-year-old Jajaira Gonzales, pushed the envelope in her win over Mikaela Mayer to make it one a piece. Today’s box-off will decide which of these two warriors will represent the United States in the Olympic qualifiers next year. Both fighters bring a lot to the contest. Mayer has strong technical abilities and with her longer reach can box tall, whereas Gonzalez brings aggression, pressure and fast hands that seem relentless. For all her youth, Gonzales has won impressive international titles readily matching Mayer’s competitive fire.
Stand ready to applaud them all!
Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing Results 112 lbs: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas, dec Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas, 2-1
132 lbs: Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif., dec Mikaela Mayer*, Los Angeles, Calif., 3-0
165 lbs: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec Tika Hemingway, Brackenridge, Pa., 3-0
*This is Mikaela Mayer’s first loss. Championship box-off between Jajaira Gonzalez and Mikaela Mayer will take place at 4:00 PM on Sunday, November 1 at the Cook Convention Center South Hall.
At 18, Jajaira Gonzalez (l) defeated veteran champion Tiara Brown, for a place in the 2015 Olympic Trials finals against reigning USA National lightweight boxing champion Mikaela Mayer. Photo Credit: USA Boxing
Each of them has endured a loss.
Each of them has fought through that loss and will meet the winner of that contest in the ring on Saturday night for a chance to come away as a prospective Olympian poised to compete on the world stage for the opportunity for a final berth at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
Each battle for the right to fight in the finals was hard-fought and in some cases, fraught with history as veterans who have encountered each other before in the squared circle knew it was all down to what happens in four rounds of action.
Reigning Olympic flyweight bronze medalist, Marlen Esparza (r), was redeemed last night when she defeated Christina Cruz. Esparza will face Ginny Fuchs in a rematch in the Olympic Trials final. Photo credit: USA Boxing
For the reigning Olympic flyweight bronze medalist, Marlen Esparza, it meant redemption and being on a track for what seemed inevitable at the beginning of the week before she was stopped cold by Virginia Fuchs. In defeating, Christina Cruz, a fighter’s fighter who fought a brilliant outsider’s game with angles and heart, Esparza is now pumped up to rewrite the script with Fuchs and come away with what must feel like her rightful place.
In the lightweight division, the 18-year-old, punches-in-bunches phenom, Jajaira Gonzalez, who’d fought Mikaela Mayerto a 2-1 split decision in their battle, came away victorious over 2014 World Championship bronze medalist, and three-time USA Boxing National Champion, Tiara Brown. Gonzalez, a Junior and Youth World Champion, used aggression and pressure to counter Brown’s veteran technical ring savvy in carving out the 3-0 decision.
Tika Hemmingway (l) claimed victory over Raquel Miller in the middleweight division. Hemmingway will face reigning Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields in the Olympic Trials final. Photo credit: USA Boxing
For former champion Tika Hemingway, contesting for a berth in the finals against reigning Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields, there was an inevitability to her win over Raquel Miller, even though the battle was closely contested with a lot of back and forth in momentum and opportunities to be exploited. No matter who fights Hemingway, there are always costs. She is hard-hitting and physical in the ring–and while she’s lost once to Shields in the Olympic Trials, she’ll fight just as hard tonight for a chance to win.
Win or lose, the 24 women who have come to Memphis to fight for a place at the Olympics are each momentous in their drive, determination and skills as boxers. It is no easy feat to compete at the level of Olympians, harder still for women, and, in my estimation, hardest for female boxers who not only must seek out opportunities for support during their four-year odyssey for a place on the team, but must also endure the slights and prejudices of a wider public that rarely support women in the ring. That it has come down to the three contests tonight is miraculous, but let us not forget all of the days and nights of training and competing in rinky-dink rings with barely enough money for car fare. That USA Boxing has developed a cadre of elite fighters it supports for this go around is fantastic, but there needs to be more. More excitement, more opportunity and much, much more respect.
Watching many of these young women compete at the National Women’s Golden Gloves in July, my heart was overwhelmed by the bravery and humbleness they exhibited both in the ring and out. As a body sport, boxing teaches humility and to step inside the ropes is to exhibit physical and mental strength that is honed through thousands of hours of hard, hard work.
So whatever happens tonight, who ever winds up our Olympians, do applaud all of the women who have fought and dreamed. They deserve it.
Olympic Trials- Women’s Boxing Day 4 Challenger Results
Flyweight Christina Cruz (l) with the win over Giavonna Camacho in the challenger battle, has earned a rematch against Marlen Esparza on Friday. Both will battle for a spot in the finals against Virginia Fuchs.
With the first group of Finalists set – Virginia Fuchs (112 lbs.), Mikaela Mayer (132 lbs.), and Claressa Shields (165 lbs.) – the first challenger bracket bouts were held last night in the double-elimination Olympic Trials Tournament. The winners fight again tonight for the right to box in the finals on Saturday night.
The first of the three contenders for Friday night action is Christina Cruz(112 lbs.). Cruz is 32 years of age and will have her second shot at doing battle with 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Marlen Esparza whose stunning loss to Ginny Fuchs has put in her the challenger bracket. Cruz lost to Esparza in the second round, but given how much she has amped up her game with her renewed focus, training and diet, she might well push through Esparza on Friday. Cruz handily defeated Giovanna Camacho for the second time to gain the right to keep on challenging for a berth in the finals.
Jajaira Gonzalez(132 lbs.), the 18-year-old who pushed hard in her battle against Mikaela Mayer in the second round only to fall in defeat, used pressure and aggression to defeat Rianna Rios 3-0. Gonzalez will face Tiara Brown, in what promises to be a terrific battle of wills between these two fighters, for the right to face Mayer in the finals.
Tika Hemingway (165 lbs.) narrowly defeated veteran Franchon Crews2-1. Both fighters had competed in the Olympic Trials in 2012. Hemingway used aggression to finally muscle through to take the contest though Crews was able to gain the momentum throughout the bout. Hemingway will take on Raquel Miller in the challenger contest for the right to fight Claressa Shields in the final.
Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing Results
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., dec. Giovanna Camacho, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
Virginia Fuchs (l) with the huge upset win over Marlen Esparza to secure a spot in Saturday’s Olympic Trials Final. Esparza will have the chance to earn a challenger berth if she wins on Friday.
Talk about a big night! Flyweight boxer Virginia Fuchs, lightweight Mikaela Mayer, and middleweight Claressa Shieldseach clinched a berth in the upcoming Olympic Trials finals on Saturday night. All three have been undefeated in the tournament to date–earning them the right for a corner in the finals and two days off.
In the upset of the night, Virginia Fuchs defeated Olympic Bronze Medalist Marlen Esparza, 2-1 in a tough, tough battle. This was their fourth meeting at the championship level–with Fuchs victorious for the first time. As quoted by USA Boxing, Fuchs said, “I stopped her from getting in her rhythm. I got my space and I used my jab. My jab was the key. It feels amazing. It feels so good because this is what I’ve been working for. For the past four years, this is what I’ve been working on. This is what I came here to accomplish.”
Mikaela Mayer came up a 3-0 winner in her fifth meeting against number two seeded Tiara Brown. Each boxer had two victories against her opponent coming into the match. As quoted by USA Boxing, Mayer said, “She was coming toward me and that allowed me to use my boxing skills which is what I’m good at. That 1-2-3 was landing every time.”
Claressa Shields pulled out a flawless technical performance to defeat veteran boxer, Raquel Miller. Shields said, ““She was really patient and backed up a lot of the fight. She came forward some but I landed the cleaner, harder shots. She landed a few right hands but I kept going forward, and kept landing jabs. I landed a lot of jabs.”
In this double elimination tournament, there will be two sets of Challenger bouts to chose the other finalist for Saturday night. The first set will be Thursday, with the winner in each weight category facing Esparza, Brown and Miller on Friday.
Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing Results
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Giovanna Camacho, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Amanda Pavone, Burlington, Mass., 2-0
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., dec. Alex Love, Colorado Springs, Colo., 2-0
112 lbs/winners bracket: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas dec. Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas, 2-1
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Rianna Rios, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Samantha Kinchen, Lexington, Ky., 2-0 tiebreaker
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Jajaira Gonzalez won on medical walkover over Amelia Moore, Millersville, Md., W/O
132 lbs/winners bracket: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Tiara Brown, Fort Myers, Fla., 3-0
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., dec. Naomi Graham, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Tika Hemingway, Brackenridge, Pa., dec. Cierra Taylor, Rochester, N.Y., 3-0
165 lbs/winners bracket: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec. Raquel Miller, San Diego, Calif., 3-0
Thursday’s Olympic Trials Bout Sheet
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Giovanna Camacho, Colorado Springs, Colo., vs. Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y.
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Rianna Rios, Colorado Springs, Colo., vs. Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif.
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., vs. Tika Hemingway, Brackenridge, Pa.
Claressa Shields (r) takes the second round win over Tika Hemmingway in a tough, hard fought battle at the women’s boxing Olympic Trials in Memphis, TN on October 27, 2015.
Another exciting night of results with teammates and old foes Marlen Esparza and Christina Cruz battling for supremacy in the flyweight division in a close contest that still broke 3-0 to Esparza. Other winners included Alex Love who remained in the contest by DQ when opponent Jamie Mitchellcame in overweight.
Both Tiara Brown and Mikaela Mayer won as well. Brown fought a decisive 3-0 win over Rianna Rios, while Mayer fought hard against an onslaught from Jajaira Gonzalez to take the 2-1 split decision. Brown and Mayer will fight each other tonight in third round action. Leaving the contest in the lightweight division is veteran boxer Lisa Porter. She will be missed.
In the middleweight division Claressa Shields fought a tough, hard fight against Tika Hemingway with haymakers that writer Sarah Deming (@SarahDeming), who is live tweeting the event, described as coming “all the way from Flint” to take the unanimous win. Raquel Miller defeated Franchon Crews in a split decision, as this is the HH Diva’s first loss in the contest, she has a berth in the third round.
Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing Results 112 lbs/challengers bracket: Giovanna Camacho, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Melanie Costa, Norton, Mass., 3-0
112 lbs/challengers bracket: Alex Love, Colorado Springs, Colo., won on disqualification over Jamie Mitchell, Las Vegas, Nev., DQ
112 lbs/winners bracket: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas dec. Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., 3-0
112 lbs/winners bracket: Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas dec. Amanda Pavone, Burlington, Mass., 3-0
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Samantha Kinchen, Lexington, Ky., dec. Stalacia Leggett, San Diego, Calif., 2-1
132 lbs/challengers bracket: Amelia Moore, Millersville, Md., dec. Lisa Porter, Van Nuys, Calif., 2-1
132 lbs/winners bracket: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Jajaira Gonzalez, Glendora, Calif., 2-1
132 lbs/winners bracket: Tiara Brown, Fort Myers, Fla., dec. Rianna Rios, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Naomi Graham, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, Calif., 2-1
165 lbs/challengers bracket: Cierra Taylor, Rochester, N.Y., dec. Iesha Kenney, Alexandria, Va., 3-0
165 lbs/winners bracket: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich., dec. Tika Hemingway, Brackenridge, Pa., 3-0
165 lbs/winners bracket: Raquel Miller, San Diego, Calif., dec. Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., 2-1
Tiara Brown (l) handily defeated Amelia Moore 3-0 on the opening night of the USA Boxing 2016 Female Olympic Trials in Memphis, Tn.
The Olympic Trials for the 2016 USA Boxing female boxing team got underway on in all three of the Olympic weight classes: Flyweight (112), Lightweight (132) and Middleweight (165).
As expected 2012, Olympic Gold medalist, Claressa Shields easily defeated her first round opponent, Naomi Graham, 3-0. 2012 Bronze medalist, Marlen Esparza,also won 3-0 over Melanie Costa.
In the lightweight division, current USA lightweight champion Mikaela Mayer won a split decision, 2-1 over Stalacia Leggett, and the number two seeded fighter, the always tough Tiara Brown defeated Amelia Moore decisively by the score of 3-0.
Alex Love, a tough scrappy fighter from the US Army boxing team had a tough loss to an equally scrappy Virginia Fuchs who took the split decision 2-1.
Other winners included New York City’s hometown girl, Christina Cruz who won 3-0 (112 lbs.), and in the middleweight division, a particularly strong division with a slew of tough competitors, Tika Hemingway, Franchon Crews and Raquel Miller all came away decisive winners.
Tuesday’s bouts, however, will give the women who faltered last night an opportunity to continue in their quest for a berth!
The full list results for the opening round is as follows:
Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing Opening Round Results
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas dec. Melanie Costa, Norton, Mass., 3-0
112 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., dec. Giovanna Camacho, Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-0
Melissa McMorrow Seeking Redemption in Mexico: Exclusive Q and A
Melissa McMorrow, “Bags and Belts,” Photo Credit: Steven Solidarios
Melissa “Mighty” McMorrow (9-4-3, 1-KO) is look for redemption.
Having fought her heart out in a title fight she is certain she won against the more experienced Mariana “Le Barbie” Juarez (39-7-3, 16-KOs) for the WBC International Female Super Flyweight championship, McMorrow is determined to find vindication.
She will be fighting 26-year-old Mexican fighter, Jessica Chavez (20-3-3, 4-KOs), in the hopes of doing just that, and in the process win the vacant WBC International Female Flyweight title. Even though she will be going back to Mexico to fight Chavez–having won a title before in someone’s backyard, when she defeated the always dangerous Susi Kentikian (33-2-0, 17-KOs) for the WBO Female Flyweight title, she is certain if she puts a little something more into her fighting she will emerge victorious on August 23, 2014.
Melissa was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to share an exclusive Q and A with Girlboxing readers. Here’s what she had to say.
1. As a boxer, you’ve been showing grit, determination and an explosive fighting style ever since you began your professional career in 2008. In preparing to fight Jessica Chavez—who at 26 is not only several years younger, but has an excellent pedigree of tough opponents—what are you doing to get into physical and mental fighting shape for your upcoming bout?
I am doing what I always do. I am running, sparring, and training hard for the fight. I have always done very strenuous cardio work and this time is no different.
Melissa McMorrow sparring with Jamie Mitchell, Photo Credit: Steven Solidarious
2. Training is everything in boxing! What you focusing on in your training to counter Chavez’s obvious talent and high level of skill in the ring both offensively and defensively?
I focus on my game and the techniques and tactics that work for me. I don’t worry too much about my opponents. Once I get into the fight, I will cater my fight to what Chavez brings, but in training, I work on making sure my best weapons are sharp. Lately, I have been working on giving better angles so I can set up effective hard shots.
A tough Melissa McMorrow applying constant pressure to La Barbie Juarez as they battled for the WBC Female Superflyweight International title, February 22, 2014. McMorrow lost 94-96 on all three cards.
3. Your most recent fight was against the highly touted Mexican fighter Mariana “La Barbie” Juárez for the WBC International Female Super Flyweight title in Mexico. The scores were 94-96 on all three scorecards, but there is some consensus that you got a raw deal. What are your feelings about it and how is that affecting you as you prepare to fight Chavez on her home turf? [A link to the fight can be found below]
The decision for the Juarez fight was very frustrating, but it motivates me to train hard for this next fight. I watched the fight over and over and still feel like I landed the cleaner more effective punches, had better defense and better ring generalship, and more effective aggression through the majority of the fight. I’m still mad about the decision so I am even more determined to leave no doubts in the upcoming fight. This fight with Chavez means a lot to me because I see it as a chance at vindication for the last one.
4. After a career that saw you fighting two to four fights a year culimnating in your defeat of Susi Kentikian to win the WBO Flyweight title and your title defense against Yahaira Martinez by TKO in the 9th round, you ended up losing the belt because you didn’t defend it during the proscribed timeframe. What can you tell us about that situation, your new promotion team, and what you hope to achieve starting with the Chavez fight?
The belt situation was unfortunate. I signed with a promoter in Germany who offered me a very good fight contract. I was very excited to fight abroad especially because Europe has some top boxing talent. I fought 2 fights under the promoter but fights after that never materialized. I was offered many fights but when I presented them to the promoter as options, I was told that they had different plans for me. This lasted a year after which I decided to walk away from the contract because it was not in my interest. This cost me the belt because without fights, the time frame for defending the title was passed. Since then, I have been looking for new beginnings. I was hoping to make a strong statement with the fight with Juarez by winning her title. But now I have a new opportunity to do so by beating Chavez in a weight class that I am more comfortable [in].
5. Across the divisions in the pro ranks of women’s boxing, fighters seem content to keep going well into their 40s. At 33, what do you see ahead of you with respect to your career as an active fighter?
I think that women differ from men in that they continue to be strong and maintain endurance longer in to their lifespan. Regardless, I am not one to make definitive plans about my future. I am open to what my life brings me…. that is how I even got into boxing in the first place. When I started, I told myself that I would box until it no longer made me happy. That hasn’t happened yet, but I think when it does it will be very clear to me that its time to move on. At this point, there are still a lot of fights that I would love to take.
Melissa McMorrow with Beautiful Brawlers Champions Iris Contreras, Graciela Ortega and Eli Salinas, Photo Credit: Blanca Guttierez
6. Aside from your efforts as a pro boxer, you’ve been lending your considerable talent to coaching and mentoring female amateurs fighters in Blanca Gutierrez’s Beautiful Brawlers program. What can you tell us about that and what you feel you can offer the girls?
I think the best thing I can offer the girls is a tangible example. That is why I show up. When I was an amateur, there were very few women in the sport. It was hard to picture what a skilled female boxer was because I had never really seen one. I try and make sure that the girls have a positive example that they can follow so that they learn when they are young that you need to put the work in.
7. Having been in the pros for over six years, what changes have you seen in the sport since you started in 2008? Do you feel the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympics in 2012, is having a positive impact on the sport?
I started fighting as a pro in 2008 but I did compete in the amateurs since 2005. The amateur scene is completely different now because there are a lot more fighters. In addition, the program has been more formalized because of the path to the Olympics. In 2006 and 2007 it was confusing what the requirements were to even go to the National tournament. The program lacked depth, so if you did not take the top spot at the Nationals there was nothing for you. This caused people to quit or turn pro because they could not find fights otherwise. There was a lot of turnover and, consequently, a lack of people really sticking with the games and really learning solid boxing skills. This has all changed because of the Olympics. There is now a very good reason for girls to develop their boxing skills for a shot at the Olympics. There are now a lot of young girls in the sport. It is very exciting!
Melissa McMorrow throwing a hard left to Susi Kentikian, in their WBO Female Flyweight title fight shown on German television. Photo Credit: Eroll Popova
8. One of the biggest frustrations for female boxers in the United States is the lack of media coverage of their fights. Just across the border from you in Mexico, women’s fights are routinely broadcast on Mexican television, sports channels and satellite outlets. What do you think has to happen to get the networks to “wake up” and start putting female fights back on television?
I think we need to find the right people at the networks to talk to. When I tell people that I am a boxer, they are immediately excited about it. This issue is not that there is no market. The product just has not been brought to the market. At this point, people are waiting for big promoters to sign female talent to showcase it. I think this would be very helpful, but creating contacts with TV outside of major promoters is also a viable option.
9. Whenever your name comes up in boxing circles, there’s a collective nod as if to say, “yep, she’s a real boxer.” What do you hope to achieve in the sport – and where do you think it will take you once you do decide to hang up the gloves?
In order to compete in a sport like boxing, you have to love it. It is very difficult to train as I much as I do, and to look after your weight, etc. Sometimes I ask my self why it is so important to me. It sometimes seems really silly. But you can’t help what you love and sports of all kinds have always been that way to me. Sports were always the thing I was best at and loved doing the most. I strive to be good at whatever I do and I hope that when I’m done boxing, a little piece of me will stay with the sport and people will remember who I was. I have no idea where it will take me when I hang up the gloves. Boxing has been a part of my life for the last 10 years so I don’t even remember my life without it, but I think I will always be a part of boxing in some way.
Melissa McMorrow’s battle against Mariana Juárez. You be the judge! (Fight starts about 12 minutes in – in Spanish)