Posts Tagged ‘Olympics

14
Aug
14

Melissa McMorrow Seeking Redemption in Mexico: Exclusive Q and A

Melissa McMorrow Seeking Redemption in Mexico: Exclusive Q and A

Melissa McMorrow, "Bags and Belts", Photo Credit: Steven Solidarios

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.

BB.MM

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!

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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)

10
Aug
12

The faces of the women’s Olympic boxing!

The faces of the women’s Olympic boxing!

The faces tell the story.

Joy.

Exuberance

Ferocity

Engagement

Pride

Intensity

Pain

09
Aug
12

Women’s Olympic Boxing Finals!!!

Women’s Olympic Boxing Finals!!!

“I wasn’t supposed to bang with her, but she didn’t respect me, so I had to!” – Claressa Shields on winning her semifinal bout 29:15 over Marina Volnova.

Update:

Claressa Shields wins the first middleweight gold medal in history by the score of 19:12!!!

 

Well it’s down to this, the first women’s Olympic boxing finals in history.

Fighting for the gold for the United States will be middleweight Claressa Shields who put the proverbial “beat down” on Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova by the score of 29-15 after rocking her to an eight-count in the third and forth rounds. Claressa’s opponent will be Russia’s Nadeszda Torlopova who defeated Li Jinzi by the score of 12:10 in a somewhat lackluster contest.

In speaking about Claressa, AP sportswriter Greg Beacham wrote: “And just like Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier and Oscar De La Hoya before her, Claressa Shields is about to fight for a gold medal.”

Claressa has that effect. She’s infectious and has the same kind of star quality that makes putting her in the company of boxing greats seem like the most natural thing in the world. She’s also promised to bring home nothing less than gold — and knowing Claressa, she probably will.

Claressa Shields and Barbara “The Mighty Atom” Buttrick backstage at the Excel Arena. Buttrick began boxing in 1949 in carnival shows all over England. Credit: Sue Jay Johnson

In the Flyweight division, China’s Cancan Ren who defeated the USA’s Marlen Esparza by the score of 10-8 will take on Great Britain’s Nicola Adams who won her semifinal match against India’s Magnificent Mary Kom by decision 11:6.

Marlen Esparza and Mary Kom will both be awarded the first women’s flyweight bronze medals for women’s boxing. Both performed their best and should feel proud of their place in the evolution of the sport. Marlen has been a fierce competitor and a model of selfless achievement in the American amateur boxing community. And as for Mary Kom — having boxed in the first ever AIBA World Women’s Boxing tournament in 2001, she has persevered in the sport she loves to become an Olympian.

Ireland’s wildly popular Katie Taylor the reigning world champion in the Lightweight division handily defeated Mayzuna Chorieva 17:9 to earn her berth in the finals. She will face the number two seed, Sofya Ochigava from Russia who defeated the Brazilian fighter Adriana Araujo, 17:11.

Katie is a veteran amateur fighter who has long been lauded as the best of best. She also works tirelessly for women’s sports in her native Ireland and has become so beloved that she led the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin in 2011.

Whether these remarkable women win silver or gold — they each have stories to tell of how they made their way through the labyrinth of training, competition and the dings that life threw them along the way. As women they are trailblazers in a sport that more often than not has neglected their presence or worse attempted to meddle in such things as whether they should wear skirts. Still they have boxed their way into the hearts of their fans — and new ones who are being won over by the poise, skills and temerity of these athletes.

As you watch the women’s Olympic boxing finals today remember that you are part of history — and then send up an extra loud cheer for the sheer guts that these women embody as they step into the ring!

Don’t watch the Finals on your own! Cheer on with a terrific web chat!

Join Girlboxing, Sarah Deming and 2012 World Champion Tiara Brown and producer Marianne McCune online with WNYC.org Radio’s online chat as part of the WomenBox coverage! The festivities get underway at 11:30 AM (EDT) in the US. Link to the chat is here.

Great articles from around the web!

Ariel Levy, New Yorker: Claressa Shields Boxes for Gold

Greg Beacham, AP: US’ Claressa Shields advances to gold-medal bout

Eric Woodyard, MLive: Claressa Shields’ promise: Nothing less than gold in the Olympics

John Henderson, Denver Post: Olympic Boxing draws interest from all corners of the world

Ignacio Toress, NBC Latino: Marlen Esparza gets bronze and makes history

Lyndsey Telford, Independent.ie: Katie Taylor hailed as role model in hometown Bray

Olympics Results

Semifinal Session Results

08
Aug
12

Women’s boxing is going for the Gold!

Women’s boxing is going for the Gold!

Marlen Esparza, Claressa Shields and the ten other semi-finalists who will be battling it out today have spent years getting to this point.

India’s Mary Kom boxed in the first International Boxing Association (AIBA) Women’s World Boxing Championships held in November 2001 at a venue in Scranton, PA. Mary was one of 125 boxers who participated in the championship and won a Silver medal in the 48KG division. She subsequently won Gold in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2010.

China’s Cancan Ren who will face Marlen Esparza in the semifinals is also a Gold medalist having won in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Marlen herself is no stranger to achieving the top spot in her sport having won the USA Boxing national championship five times in her career.

Ireland’s Katie Taylor is considered pound – for – pound about the best that women’s amateur boxing has to offer and if her quarterfinal bout against Natasha Jonas is any indication she is well on her way to Gold in the lightweight division.

And not to say that these remarkable athletes are only in it for the Gold, but as competitors they won’t say no to the opportunity to shine.

As members of the first class of female boxing Olympians there is, of course, a little something extra to the achievements that their considerable talent, gumption and strong work ethics have given them. Whatever happens they will hit the history books–and why not, they deserve every brilliant accolade coming to them for persevering in a sport that loves to hate them.

Even as of last night, @espnboxing tweeted the following: “2012 Summer Olympics–Errol Spence’s loss ensures no U.S. boxing medal…”

Okay, I give up–I thought that Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields are fighting today for the chance to win a Bronze, Silver or Gold U.S. boxing medal. I guess I got that wrong–or is it that ESPN doesn’t consider that Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields were worth noticing as members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team; not to mention consideration for the years and years and years of work and effort they put into becoming Olympians: win or lose.

Still Marlen and Claressa will box.

They will box alongside the other ten Olympians who have made it to the semifinals and leaving all the doubters and naysayers behind will fight their hearts out for Gold. It will be Gold they can feel proud of as a personal achievement, and yes for a bit of national pride too, no matter that for some of the women who will box for the chance to win Gold, it will be nothing more than an asterisk that’ll sit next to the “no U.S. boxing medal” mindset or equivalent nonsense thereof.

07
Aug
12

2012 Women’s Olympics Boxing Semi-Finals!

2012 Women’s Olympics Boxing Semi-Finals on Wed. August 8! — UPDATED (see link at bottom of post for full quarterfinal results)

Then there were twelve … twelve extraordinary boxers who will begin the medals rounds on Wednesday, August 8th to box for bronze, silver and gold and for their countries!  This is pretty heady stuff in the world of women’s boxing!  The action begins at 1:30 PM Local Time (8:30 AM EDT) on Wed. August 8th.

FLYWEIGHTS 

China’s top seed in the flyweight division Cancan Ren fought a quick and technically smart fight against Russia’s Elena Savelyeva to win her quarterfinal bout by decision with the score 12-7.  Her opponent is none other than the USA’s Marlen Esparza, who fought her signature inside/outside game with quick and assured hands to not only take the win against Bulgaria’s Karhla Magiolocco, but to show her dominance of the ring.  Esparza took the decision by the decisive score of 24-16.

The popular Indian Flyweight Mary Kom (Chungneihang Mery Kom Hmangte), who is a champion many times over won her fight by the score of 15-6 against Tunisian boxer Maroua Rahali.  Kom faces the Great Britain’s hometown favorite, Nicola Adams who handily defeated Bulgaria’s Stokya Petrova by decision with the score of 16-7 in the quarterfinals.

LIGHTWEIGHTS

Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the number one seed in the division, showed boxing brilliance in her match against Britain’s Natasha Jonas. Both fighters gave credance to the idea of calling boxing The Sweet Science. Taylor scored 26-15 by decision after rocking Jonas in both the third and forth rounds.  Her opponent will be Mavzuna Chorieva from Tajikistan who won her semi-final berth by defeating China’s Cheng Dong by the score of 13-8.

Brazil’s Adriana Araujo had a fairly close win over Morocco’s Mahjouba Oubtil scoring 16-12 by decision.  Araujo faces the number two seed, Russia’s Sofya Ochigava who walked through her bout against New Zealand’s Alexis Pritchard by the score of 22-4.

MIDDLEWEIGHTS

The first semifinal bout will be between the USA’s Claressa Shields and Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan. Shields gained her berth in a tough demanding bout against the much taller and experienced Anna Laurell. Shields toughness and ferocity, however won out as she muscled through her opponents defences to take the fight decisively by the score of 18-14.  Volnova gained her berth by toppling number one seed Savannah Marshall of Great Britain by decision, 16:12.

China’s Li Jinzi defeated Canadian favorite Mary Spencer in the quarterfinal by the score of 17-14. Jinzi will face number two seed Nadezda Torlopova of Russia who overpowered the Nigerian boxer Edith Ogoke 18-8 to take the decision.

Taking home the gold!

If viewers and boxing fans have questioned the quality of the boxing at the Olympics (especially the USA Boxing men’s program) — the female fighters have proven that where the women’s boxing program is concerned, they came to medal and medal they will. Fighters such as Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields will come home with nothing less than a bronze, but truth be told it is gold they are after.

Whatever happens, the excitement in the ExCel Arena has been infectious if not mind-bendingly loud with decibel levels well in excess of 107 for the Taylor-Jonas fight. The Detroit Free Press added this quote which is apt:

“This Olympics just amplifies what they’ve already done,” Charles Leverette, assistant U.S. coach, said of women’s boxing’s inaugural competition. “It’s an exclamation point. These women here, they’re great talents. Me, personally, I think they’re going to be adding another couple of weight classes. This is some of the most exciting competition you can get.” (Full article here.)

Girlboxing for one couldn’t be prouder or more humbled by the remarkable efforts of the first class of female boxing Olympians who have stepped through the velvet ropes to fight. No matter the outcome they are all true champions who have defied the prevailing winds to prove themselves as true Olympians.

Quarterfinal Results Click HERE!!!

06
Aug
12

2012 Women’s Olympic Boxing Quarterfinals!

2012 Women’s Olympic Boxing Quarterfinals!

Yep, today’s the day.  Twelve bouts across three Olympic weights:  flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. Action gets underway at the ExCel arena starting at 1:30 PM local time (8:30 ET).

FLYWEIGHTS

First up will be China’s Cancan Ren against Elena Savelyeva who won by decision yesterday over Hye Song Kim 12-9, in the first women’s Olympic bout in history.

The USA’s medal-hopeful and six-time national champion, Marlen Esparza will fight Karlha Magliocco of Venezuela who won her bout by a 15-14 decision against the Brazilian flyweight Erica Matos.

Next up will be India’s great champion Mary Kom who fought a gallant prelim bout against the much larger Polish fighter Karolina Michalczuk taking the decision by a score of 19-14.  Kom faces Tunisia’s Marous Rahali who had a BYE yesterday.

The last flyweight quarterfinal match will pit Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova who proved herself to be a talented competitor in her bout against New Zealand’s Siona Fernandes by taking the decision 23-11 against Great Britain’s Nicola Adams.

LIGHTWEIGHTS

The great Irish fighter Katie Taylor who as the number one seed is favored to win the gold may have had a BYE yesterday, but she will have her hands full when she faces the popular British fighter Natasha Jonas.  Jonas defeated the highly popular USA fighter Queen Underwood in a heartbreaker in the prelim round taking the decision 21-13.

The second fight will pit China’s Cheng Dong who won her quiet bout 10-5 against Mihaela Lacatus of Rumania.  She’ll face Mayzuna Chorieva of Tajekistan who had a BYE in the prelims.

The next outing will pit the scrappy Brazilian fighter Adriana Araujo who pulled out her win with fierce forth round action against Khassenova Saida (KAZ) by decision with the score of 16-14 against Mahjouba Oubtil (MAR) who will be making her Olympic debut.

The last lightweight bout will pit New Zealand’s popular boxer Alexis Pritchard who took her decision 15-10 against a very scrappy Rim Jouini of Tunisia against Russia’s Sofya Ochigava who sat out yesterday’s prelims with a BYE.

MIDDLEWEIGHTS

Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall, the number one seed in the middleweight division will make her Olympic debut facing Marina Volnova (KAZ) who took her decision 20-11 against Kenya’s great champion Elizabeth Andiego who quite frankly gave it her all in the ring during their preliminary bout–and should have won on heart alone.

Claressa Shields, the 17-year-old American phenomenon will enter the Olympic boxing ring for the first time against Sweden’s Anna Laurell who fought a tight technical bout against Australia’s Naomi Rasmussen winning the bout with a 24-17 decision.

The third bout will see Canada’s best hope for a boxing medal Mary Spencer against China’s Jinzi Li who fought a tough controversal bout against Brazil’s Rosell Feitosa. Li won the bout 19-14, but commentators felt that while she may have won the bout, the fourth round scoring did not accurately reflect action in the fight.

The last quarterfinal bout will pit Nigeria’s Edith Ogoke who won a close hard fought bout against Elena Vystropova (AZE) by the score of 14-12.  Ogoke is matched against the number two seed, Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova who sat out the prelims with a BYE.

Yesterday’s scoring results can be found here.

Today’s official bout sheet can be found here.

Queen Underwood’s emotional post-fight interview from NBC.

 

05
Aug
12

Olympic dreams all 36 of them!

Olympic dreams all 36 of them!

One of the great things about life is the capacity to surprise. Beyond surprises though are the hopes and dreams that inform all of our greatest achievements. Today marked one of those brilliant moments when the first of the thirty-six female boxing Olympians donned the gloves to make their mark on history.

The first women to step into the ring were two flyweights: Russia’s Elena Savelyeva in her bout against North Korea’s Hye Song Kim. The rounds were hard fought if not the most elegant of bouts, but it didn’t matter. Both women fought with heart, tenacity and gumption having both spent years in the ring perfecting their skills for that one moment. Savelyeva won the fight by a 12-9 decision after four rounds–and with her win, what had at one time seemed so impossible became something ordinary, women boxing at the Olympics as if they had always boxed at that vaulted contest whose history as a venue for boxing spans millennia.

And to my mind, watching it through the miracle of digital images transported across space, Teddy Atlas‘ voice speaking to the heart of what makes a champion, it was hard not to feel the pomp and circumstance of the Olympian spirit that permeates the Games in the best sense. I thought of old Nestor in The Iliad lamenting his age and its denial of his chance to sport once more in the ring of combat. It gave those moments a kind of “churchiness” as each young women resplendent in blue and red, their shiny new head-gear and gloves in place; gave it their all with skill and ring savvy and dreams of Olympic glory informing their pas de deux around the canvas.

I ached for Queen Underwood whose years of hard work came to a crashing halt–pushing through tears as she spoke so eloquently for the cameras about her 21-13 loss to Natasha Jonas. Queen fought with fire, each punch the culmination of thousands of hours of gym time as so many pathways of muscle memory. She said, “I took a big jump in my life to get here.”  And she did, but more than her jump, she jumped for all of us. Yes, she is terribly disappointed that she didn’t go on–but she should also know that she was a champion walking into the ring and no less a champion walking out.

Perhaps that’s the point. Each of the thirty-six athletes who will box over the course of the next few days has taken a big jump to get to the Olympics. They have endured countless years of hard labor at their craft and have overcome the personal trials and tribulations that inform a life to step up into the ring in the first place–not to mention enduring the “slings and arrows” if you will, of a wider public that has been somewhat unforgiving when it comes to supporting the sport of women’s boxing.

What I saw today, however, was a brilliant display of skill and temerity–pure and simple and as my husband put, “I keep forgetting that I’m watching women because they’re just great boxers!”  Would that all of us could embrace this wonderous sport with such ease.

===

Today’s bout sheet results from AIBA!

Queen Underwood’s emotional post-fight interview from NBC.




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