SPRINGS, COLO.) - The United States’ two 2012 Olympic medalists
returned to the podium on Monday with gold medal victories at
the 2014 Elite Women’s World Championships in Jeju, South Korea.
champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) and Olympic
bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) both
claimed their first elite women’s world titles with final round
victories in the major international event at the Halla
gold medal performance is the first time the United States squad
has ever won two world titles in a single women’s world
championships competition. In addition to her first elite world
title, Shields received the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament
award following a dominant performance throughout the event.
veteran of five World Championships, competed in her first
tournament finale on Monday and the 25-year-old veteran refused
to be denied. She took on England’s Lisa Jane Whiteside in
the flyweight championship bout and the two talented women
battled in a highly competitive contest throughout all eight
minutes. Despite multiple momentum swings during the four rounds
of competition, Esparza stayed focused on her game plan and
executed late in the bout. She pulled out a 2-1 decision over
Whiteside to win flyweight gold. Esparza fought through illness
during the duration of the tournament but wouldn’t allow
anything to stop her from her goal.
hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m so happy,” Esparza said. “I think my
experience really played a big role in this tournament. My
nerves have impacted me in the past but because I’ve been here
so many times before, it wasn’t as nerve-racking. I’ve been
fighting so much that I could make adjustments and think in a
way that I wasn’t able to before. In the past, I’ve just reacted
off of instinct and this time, I was able to think.”
enjoyed her first time on the top spot of a World Championships
medal stand and she did her best to soak in the moment. “It was
awesome. This time, I got to take it all in and know that I was
the winner,” she said.
bronze medalist plans to use her experience in Jeju as she
prepares for another run at the Olympic Games. “I’m going to
look at the mistakes I made and use what I’ve learned about
being able to think in the ring and control my nerves,” she
Shields fashion, the 19-year-old powerhouse dominated her bout
with China’s Qian Li from the opening bell. She used her
speed and precision early and often to keep the Chinese boxer
off balance and rack up the rounds. Shields controlled every
moment of each of her World Championships bouts and Monday was
no exception. She completed her journey to gold with a unanimous
decision victory over Li to claim middleweight gold and fill the
only remaining hole in her resume. In addition to winning
another gold medal, Shields received the Outstanding Boxer of
the Tournament award for her impressive showing in Jeju.
humbled, my heart feels so full,” Shields said. “To win my first
AIBA world title was more than enough, but to win the
Outstanding Boxer award too, I’m just so thankful,” she said.
(Benny Roman and Gloria Peek) were great both in the corner and
outside of the ring. They made me smile outside of the ring and
when I came back to the corner, what they said to me was right
on point,” she said. “They gave me great instructions and if
they saw that I was dominating, they would tell me what to do to
dominate even more.”
impressed everyone in attendance throughout the competition, she
still sees room for improvement. “I felt great every fight, but
I can always do better,” she said.
competed in more World Championship tournaments than any other
American female boxer and holds the U.S. record with eight
straight USA Boxing National Championships. After becoming the
first female boxer from the United States to win a medal in the
Olympic Games, the 25-year-old Texas chose to focus her eyes on
gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With a new
world championship under her belt, Esparza will now be one of
the favorites to return to the medal podium in two years.
Esparza moved to the Olympic Training Center earlier this year
and has become one of USA Boxing’s three resident athletes in
Colorado Springs, Colo.
only 17-year-old, Shields made history with a victory in the
middleweight division at the first Olympic Games to feature
women’s boxing. After winning gold at the 2012 Olympic Games,
Shields earned a youth world championship in 2013 and received
the 2013 youth female boxer of the year award from AIBA, the
international federation for Olympic-style boxing. She heads in
to the second half of the quad as the strong favorite to defend
her gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games and the Michigan
teenager doesn’t plan to disappoint.
In addition to
the two gold medals, featherweight Tiara Brown (Fort
Myers, Fla.) won bronze for the United States, adding the medal
to her 2012 world championship. The United States team finished
second in the team medal standings in the 2014 Elite Women’s
World Championships with two gold and one bronze medal.
Shields became the fourth and fifth American boxers ever to win
women’s world championships titles with today’s wins. The duo
joins Devonne Canady (2001), Andrecia Wasson (2010), and Tiara
Brown (2012) in accomplishing the feat.
Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Gloria Peek (Norfolk, Va.), Joe
Guzman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), and Juan Estrada (San
Diego, Calif.) led the United States team in Jeju.
kg: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA dec. Lisa Jane
Whiteside, ENG, 2-1
165 lbs/75 kg: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec.
Qian Li, CHN, 3-0