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Esparza Pulls Upset against Kim Ok Hyang
by Julie Goldsticker
September 13, 2010


(SEPT 13) (COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – Flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) took the ring at the Sobers Sports Complex in Bridgetown, Barbados, with the weight of the world and her own medal hopes on her shoulders. Yet pressure is nothing new to Esparza, a five-time national champion and World Championships bronze medalist in the light flyweight division. Esparza would not be intimidated by World Champion Kim Ok Hyang of North Korea, and she proved her mettle as a top 2012 Olympic hopeful with a 12-7 victory over Hyang.

Although the bout took place in preliminary action, it was an early glimpse at two of the women who could vie for gold at the first Olympic Games for women’s boxing in London. It was Hyang striking first in the flyweight preliminary bout, scoring twice before Esparza could get on the board. Esparza quickly responded and pulled within a 3-2 margin after the opening round. “As always, I was really nervous before the bout,” Esparza said. “I knew that she was left handed and I had to concentrate on countering her straight left hand. I was down on points after the first round but I didn’t lose my confidence or think that I was going to lose.”

The bout remained close in the second round with the score tied at 5-5 with two rounds of boxing remaining. The second half of the bout belonged to Esparza. She grabbed her first lead in third round and pushed it to a 9-7 advantage as action moved into the final round. “It seemed like once I started scoring, she almost started to give up but she kept throwing punches.”

Esparza held the reigning world champion scoreless over the full two minutes of the fourth round and landed five scoring blows of her own to win a 12-7 decision and upset the North Korean. “I’m normally very aggressive but I’ve been working on being more patient instead of always being the aggressor and getting caught when I come in,” she said. “Today, I was patient and my counter punching was the key to the bout.”

As one of the three Olympic contested weight divisions, the flyweight class boasts a large number of competitors so despite the stiff opposition Esparza faced; she still must win four more times to take her first world title. Esparza will compete for a spot in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday afternoon when she takes on Asian Indoor Games winner Peamwla Laopeam of Thailand.

“This is definitely the biggest win of my career to this point,” Esparza said. “There have been other major wins like the win over Turkey where I had to come back from a big deficit, but as far as status and the level of opposition, this is the best I’ve ever done. I kept my head and ended up winning by five points. I’m really happy right now.”

Featherweight Jody Ann Weller (Pomona, N.Y.) and light heavyweight Tyler Lord-Wilder (Lansing, Mich.) both dropped their World Championships openers on Sunday evening. Weller lost her preliminary bout to Sweden’s Helena Falk, 14-3, and Lord-Wilder suffered a similar fate, dropping a 15-3 contest to Hungary’s Timea Nagy. The United States had won seven straight bouts prior to the losses in evening action.

Weller got off to a slow start in her bout with Falk and trailed by a 7-2 margin after the first four minutes of action. She couldn’t put a dent in her deficit in the final half of the bout and lost a 14-3 decision. Lord-Wilder kept her bout with Nagy close through the early-going, trailing by only one point after the opening round. However Nagy took control of the bout in the second and Lord-Wilder couldn’t reclaim the momentum, dropping the 15-3 final decision.

Four U.S. boxers will have the chance to start a new winning streak in Monday’s action. Lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) will compete in her third bout of the tournament in afternoon action, when she takes on Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee. Light welterweight Cashmere Jackson (Cleveland, Ohio) will compete in her second contest of the event on Monday afternoon as well, as she battles China’s Qinqin Yang.

Two U.S. boxers will vie for their second consecutive tournament victories in Monday’s evening session. Welterweight Andrecia Wasson (Centerline, Mich.) will face Junior European Champion Svetlana Kosova of Russia and middleweight Tiffanie Hearn (Louisville, Ky.) will challenge the Netherland’s Nouchka Fontijn. A win in Monday’s competition will mean a berth in the quarterfinal round for all of the competitors.

For additional information on the event including live results and bracket sheets for all 10 weight divisions, link.

U.S. Results

112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas/USA dec. Kim Ok Hyang, PKR, 12-7

125 lbs: Helena Falk, SWE, dec. Jody Ann Weller, Pomona, N.Y./USA, 14-3
178 lbs: Timea Nagy, HUN, dec. Tyler Lord-Wilder, Lansing, Mich./USA,15-3

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).

Julie Goldsticker
President, Goldsticker Public Relations

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