Marlen Esparza, Tiara Brown and Claressa Shields Win Semifinal Bouts at the 2012 Women’s Continental Championships

(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO) – A trio of U.S. women moved on to the finals of the 2012 Women’s Continentals Championships with semifinal wins on Friday at the NAV Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas), featherweight Tiara Brown (Lehigh Acres, Fla.) and middleweight Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) each enjoyed wins on Friday while bantamweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.) lost her semifinal bout.

For the second straight day, Esparza led off the competition for her United States team as she faced off with 2011 Pan American Games champion Mandy Bujold of Canada. Their semifinal showdown was close throughout, but Esparza took an 11-8 lead into the final round of boxing. She held off Bujold’s comeback efforts in the final round to win a 16-14 final decision and move on to a finals night contest with Brazil’s Erica Matos.

Brown won her second straight bout of the tournament as well, defeating Melissa Esquivel of Mexico. Brown took a 10-5 lead at the halfway mark of the semifinal contest, but she didn’t sit on her lead. Brown continued to add to her advantage over the final two rounds and went to win a 22-9 final decision. She will look for her third victory of the event in Saturday’s finals as she faces Leonela Sanchez of Argentina.

Shields made her highly anticipated tournament debut on Friday in a middleweight contest with 2010 light heavyweight World Champion Roseli Feitosa of Brazil. The 17-year Olympic Trials champion didn’t disappoint in her first senior international bout. She jumped out to an early lead, taking a 7-3 edge after one. She kept the heat on in the second, giving Feitosa a standing eight count before taking a 13-6 advantage into the second half of the bout. Her onslaught continued over the final four minutes as Shields won a 29-11 decision. She will face another stiff challenge in the finals, battling three-time world champion Mary Spencer of host nation Canada.

Cruz kept her bout with Brazil’s Clelia Costa close through all four rounds of the bout couldn’t overcome Costa’s slim lead. She lost an 18-14 final decision to Costa to take a bronze medal.

Team USA has seven boxers in Saturday’s finals with light flyweight Alex Love (Monroe, Wash.), light welterweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.), light heavyweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) and heavyweight Victoria Perez (Ventura, Calif.) joining Esparza, Brown and Shields on championship night.

Team USA is being led by coaches Israel Acosta (Milwaukee, Wis.), Gloria Peek (Norfolk, Va.), Bruce Kawano (Pearl City, Hawaii) and Team Manager Joe Smith (Chattanooga, Tenn.). Dr. Ted Mills (Glen Cove, N.Y.) is working as the Team Physician with Patricia Pliner (Janesville, Wis.) joining the squad as the AIBA official.

The 2012 Women's Continental Championships can be viewed via livestream at for a cost of $9.99.

Thursday U.S. Results
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA dec. Mandy Bujold, CAN, 16-14

119 lbs: Clelia Costa, BRA, dec. Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y./USA, 18-14

125 lbs: Tiara Brown, Lehigh Acres, Fla./USA dec. Melissa Esquivel, MEX, 22-9

165 lbs: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Roseli Feitosa, BRA, 29-11

USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).


It’s a fantastic time to be a fight fan in the North East. Hot on the heels of last month’s sell-out Hartlepool bill that saw the return of former world title challenger Michel Hunter, promoter Phil Jeffries has announced his next show, at the Rainton Meadows title fight featuring one of the region’s brightest prospects.

“This is going to be really big,” stated Jeffries, who is working on the show with former fighter Dave Garside. “Michael Hunter will have his second comeback fight as chief support, and we’ve got other great local talent on like Mark Clauzel, Robert Ismay and Middlesbrough’s Shafiq ‘Chubzy’ Asif who looks a future star. I’m really excited to announce, though, that headlining will be Martin Ward fighting for the English title. His opponent hasn’t been finalized but what I can tell you is that he’ll be up against a top fighter and this is going to be his toughest test yet.”

Bantamweight Ward is recognized in the fight trade as a boxer with the potential to get to the top. The County Durham southpaw, with just one defeat in his 15 fight career, has hardly lost a round as a professional and brings to the ring – total confidence, smooth skills, and blazing hand speed. Titles aren’t given away though and Ward will need to be on top of his game on May 20th – regardless of who he faces – if he is to earn the title of ‘best in England’.

In chief support role, Michael Hunter needs no introduction. Taking it one step at a time on this, his second career comeback, the former British and European super-bantamweight king will be hoping to prove there’s ‘life in the old dog yet’. Unbeaten boxers, Newcastle’s Mark Clauzel and Gateshead’s Robert Ismay, will both be looking for wins number five, while former amateur star ‘Chubzy’ Asif, who made an impressive debut on the recent Hartlepool show, will be after victory number two. Also appearing will be Fishburn’s Gary Fox and David Lake from South Shields, neither of whom are ever in a dull fight, as well as first timers Mohammed Waqas from Middlesbrough and Sunderland’s Lee Mould. And a Anthony Baby face Nelson having there first fights.

“These are all good boxers and I just want to help them showcase their talents to the North East public,” explained Phil. “Martin Ward is undoubtedly gifted, and I’m absolutely convinced that some of the other fighters on this bill are going to end up as British champions. This is another great show for the region, the crowd down in Hartlepool was absolutely amazing, and I’ve got no doubt the support will be just as good this time around. We’re building boxing up in the North East – don’t miss the ride!”

For ticket information contact 0774 7611

Article posted on 07.04.2012

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