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American & African Olympic qualifiers - latest news & interviews
by Michael O'Neill
Photo: courtesy IABA/Facebook
March 17, 2015

(MAR 17) This week sees a continuation of the AIBA AOB Olympic boxing qualifiers in two confederation with the African tournament in Yaoundé and the American AMBC event in Buenos Aires. As of late Wednesday we bring you the latest news from both venues insofar as the women are concerned.

First let’s pay a visit to Yaoundé from where AIBA reports:

The “city of the Seven Hills” Yaoundé is the political capital of Cameroon. With a population of 2.8 million in 2015, Yaoundé is the second most populated city in Central Africa.

“The women’s flyweights were also in action on Day 5, with Morocco’s Zohra Ez Zahraoui seeing off a spirited challenge from Zambia’s top female boxer Juliana Kasonka before the talented Nigerian Caroline Linus showed her Olympic potential with a comprehensive win over Kenya’s Christine Ongare”.

Meanwhile in the Argentinian capital, Thursday is semi-finals day so here we take a look back to the quarter-finals and a good day for Team USA and their Irish Head Coach Billy Walsh. This update again from the AIBA’s team in Buenos Aires:

“The United States’ defending Olympic Champion Claressa Shields looked strong during a powerful display against Panama’s Atheyna Bylon, and she will now meet Dominican Republic rival Yenebier Guillen in Thursday’s middleweight semi-finals.

“I got the unanimous decision tonight over Panama’s great World Champion Atheyna Bylon, but I had to pressure her a bit more than usual. I just wanted to put my jab on her to see what she did and she was comfortable boxing from the outside so I raised the pressure. I will do better in my next fight, which is on my birthday, and I am excited about winning this tournament,” said US icon Claressa Shields after her bout.

All here at WBAN join in wishing Claressa a Very Happy 21st Birthday on Thursday and of course being St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, further wins for the USA Boxing trio would also help Billy celebrate his National Saint’s Day. His thoughts on the quarter-finals?

“Mikaela put in a world class performance to comprehensively beat the Canadian (Caroline Veyre) who was ranked number 1 and Pan-Am champion ; it puts us in the semis where the stakes get higher and the tension increases, but we are looking forward to the challenge from the Puerto Rico girl (Kiria Tapia) who decisioned Mikaela at last year’s Pan Am's’ Mikaela Mayer shared her head Coach’s view of her performance against Canadian no.1 seeded Caroline Veyre :

"Honestly, I envisioned this fight for a long time and I went through every single round over and over again. I also watched some of her tape and I knew she was going to be right in front of me because she doesn't move her head. She likes to come forward so I knew as long as I kept letting my hands go, she was going to get hit. She was right lined up for my straight shots," Mayer said.

"I knew she was the number one seed though. I knew she had beaten all the top girls here so I didn't underestimate her but I've worked really hard for this and I was confident. I didn't move around so much.

I usually do a little too much movement. I'll punch and circle too much. I think I stayed in the middle. I stayed in front of her. I wasn't backing up. It was working well for me. I was so relaxed from slowing down my movement and working behind the jab. The 1-2 was landing so nicely that it was keeping her off of me."

Virginia Fuchs had a fine victory over Sulem Urbina (Mexico) and will meet Colombia's Victoria Ingrit Lorena Valencia on Thursday afternoon in the qualifying bout.

"It feels good, I'm ready for the next one. Since I just fought her (Urbina) in Miami, I knew she would bring it a little harder and yes she did. She definitely put the pressure on a little more," Fuchs said. "I didn't fight her fight. Yes, it was a little bit more of a brawl here and there but I got accustomed to it. I got the clear shots in, got back out and boxed her.

Keeping a watchful eye on both the African and AMBC American qualifiers is a boxer well known to Billy Walsh since he had been one of her key coaches at London 2012, one Katie Taylor. Should she meet say Mikaela Mayer in Rio in August, Katie will be delighted to meet up with Billy again but she has no doubts about her own coaching team which includes Georgia’s Zaur Antia, a close friend of Walsh’s and of the Taylor family.

Zaur may not be as well-known as Billy Walsh but many knowledgeable experts reckon he is the best Technical Coach in the world but has turned down many lucrative offers from top boxing nations to remain loyal to Ireland and the Taylor family, in Bray.

She reminded the media, there have not been any European women’s qualifiers as yet so is taking it ‘one step at a time’. Equally there is no certainty that her coach and Dad Pete will be in her corner either.

Despite these ‘ups and downs’ she retain strong religious beliefs as we have seen so often and among her favourite psalms is this one:

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He trains my hands for battle so my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory and you stoop down to make me great. – Psalm 18”

What’s the secret of remaining at the top for 10 years? She said in a media briefing: “There’s no secret to success. It takes a lot of hard work. Take something that you love, something that you’re passionate about, give it 100% . My parents always said there’s greatness in everyone. You’ve just got to work hard to get greatness out of them. Don’t be discouraged about setbacks. I’ve had setbacks in my career.”

All the Results to date from Yaoundé are here: (scroll down for men’s and women’s scorecards):


From Buenos Aires : (again scroll down for male and female) results


LIVE coverage from Buenos Aires via Daily Motion is here:


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