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Mandy Bujold, Caroline Veyre & Claressa Shields strike Gold in Pan American Games
by Michael O'Neill
July 27, 2015
Photos: courtesy:
AMBC/AIBA/Raquel Ruiz
     
   
   

(July 27)  The 2015 XV11 PamAm Games came to an end in Toronto on Saturday with Canada’s Mandy Bujold striking Gold on her 28th Birthday in front of her adoring home fans. Minutes later Canada celebrated a second Gold when no.2 seed Caroline Veyre overcame the challenge of Argentina’s Dayana Sanchez ending a fine tournament for the home boxers, since Ariane Fortin had already collected bronze in the 75kg class.

Bujold, a three-time AMBC American Women’s Continental Champion was here as the defending champion, and began her final with AIBA Women’s World Champion (and number 1 seed) Marlen Esparza, eager to become the first woman to retain her title. The atmosphere was truly electric at the Oshawa Sports Centre and that was even before a punch had been thrown in anger.

US Flyweight star Esparza defeated Bujold in the final of the Pan American Games Qualifier in Tijuana, Mexico six weeks ago, but on her 28th Birthday, Bujold secured a memorable triumph in front of her home fans.

The AIBA reports that : “Esparza attempted to control the first round of their battle as she moved forward with serious intent, before Bujold began to launch great combinations of her own.

Buoyed by the fantastic support in the packed arena, the Canadian athlete soaked up the adulation and increased her work-rate as the fight progressed.

After all four rounds had been completed, Bujold was named the winner via split decision as she narrowly edged the captivating bout”.

Captivating bout it certainly was and few could argue that a ‘split decision’ was inevitable. Not all in Toronto agreed with the actual verdict, least of all the no.1 seeded American.



The ’neutral’ all-International Judges scored it 38-38, 37-39, 39-37 in Bujold's favour. The Toronto Sun reports that Esparza attacked the decision in the post-fight media conference.

“It was bullshit”, said Esparza when asked how she viewed the decision. “I could agree on the split, but it wasn’t her way.

“She didn’t intentionally land anything. She just waits for you to come in and then looks down at the ground and throws four punches. There’s nothing strategic ... I mean, she’s not a good fighter. I don’t know why they would give it to her, because she was rushing me with a whole bunch of punches and then wrestling while I was on the inside.

“I beat her five times, and I beat her the same way every time,” continued the American. “But just because I’m in Canada...I mean, whatever, they got what they want. It was the whole reason I lost. If it would have been anywhere else ... She’s not any better than the first time I fought her.”

“Some people are bad losers,” said Bujold. “It’s part of the game and when you’re fighting in Canada, you can’t make it a close fight. Just like when I go over there and I fought her in her hometown and it was a split decision for her”

"I knew she was going to come in, she throws a lot of hooks, a lot of overhand rights," said went on. "I could see her overhand right, she winds it up every time she's about to throw it.

"I was just jab, jab, wait for her overhand, block it, come with a straight punch up the middle."

“The energy in the building is what really pushed me,” said Bujold. “It’s my birthday as well, so the gold medal is icing on the cake.” “I felt great in the ring tonight - I was able to put my game plan to work, and I could see her punches coming. I fought smart and I am proud of that. I am going to celebrate my gold medal and my birthday with everyone who came to Oshawa to cheer me on.”

Odd comment that in the first sentence from the new champion Bujold bearing in mind that the judges were from ‘neutral’ countries and reckoned to be amongst the best in the AIBA. True it was a very close bout that could have gone either way but then since when have boxers and their team mentors not disagreed over decisions they feel should have gone their way?

Yes it could have gone Esparza’s way but when there is such a close bout there has to be a loser as well as a winner and Bujold proved to be a worthy champion based on her performances
throughout the tournament.

Who were those judges then? Meng Wang of China, Great Britain’s Andrew Caulfield and Sid Ali Mokretari from Algeria.

On a happier note for the United States. Flint’s Claressa Shields became the first American to hold Olympic and PanAmerican titles when she scored a convincing 3:0 verdict over Dominican Republic’s, Yenebier Guillem in Friday’s 69-75kg final bout. Further honor was to follow when the U.S PanAm team nominated Shields to carry the nation’s flag at Saturday’s closing ceremony.

"I'm so honored to have been chosen by my fellow Team USA athletes to be the flag bearer," Shields said. "There were so many great nominees for this honor and it is a privilege to carry our flag in the closing ceremony. I'm really excited."

She had won every round in Friday’s final, despite a point being deducted for lowering her head and clearly is heading for many more triumphs in the future be it as an ‘amateur’ or as a Pro,

and whether before or after Rio 2016.

She told the AIBA : ““It feels great to be a champion in the Pan American Games, and I am the first woman who could win a title for my country. My final opponent Yenebier is a great fighter, she is calm, had a game plan and she tried to execute it. Today’s tactic was to keep it sharp, to not get into a dog fight, and to land my shots and move. I am never satisfied with my performance, I always see flaws that I want to fix in my style”

She went on to elaborate : "She came out and fought a little bit different this time. I've never had a point taken from me before and I've boxed in a lot of tournaments in a lot of countries with a lot of different referees and I've never had a point taken for moving my head," Shields said. "That still didn't scare me though, I knew it was just one point. I knew I won the first three rounds easy and in the fourth round, she started to move and didn't really try to fight. I just kept pressuring her and won a unanimous decision”.

Twenty years old Shields returns home to Flint on Wednesday, Aug. 5 for a special screening of her award-winning documentary, "T-Rex",at the Flint Institute of Arts.

Caroline Veyre remained somewhat of an unknown quantity even in the Americas before this tournament albeit she is well known in Europe, especially in Ireland where she greatly impressed albeit losing to Katie Taylor at Dublin’s Mansion House in November 2013. Taylor forecast then that the Quebec boxer was ‘one to watch’ for the future and undoubtedly she will be ‘in the mix’ for a place in the 2016 AIBA World Championships & Olympic qualifying tournaments.

In those events she will also probably face a tough United States representative – they had no representative here having failed to qualify one for Toronto but could ‘field’ one of several possible choices in 2016, perhaps Mikaela Mayer, maybe Tiara Brown or even young Jaijaira Gonzalez the AIBA Youth titleholder. Many experts in Europe see Gonzalez as the ‘one to watch’ if not for Rio then for Tokyo and beyond.

On Saturday night in Toronto Veyre defeated Argentina’s Dayana Sanchez 2:0 winning 40:36 40:36 and 38:38 on the judges card though how the Korean judge reached the latter conclusion is a surprise.

The new champion also spoke about the support of Canadian fans.

"It helped me so much to win," said Veyre. "Everybody coming like this, you feel the support and you want to give more. I was more active than usual thanks to that.

"I think that's what helped me to win the fight."

Overall including the men’s 10 titles, the following nations secured boxing gold medals at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games with powerhouses Cuba as expected dominating the men’s events.

Cuba: 6 gold medals
Canada: 3 golds
United States of America: 2 golds
Mexico, Venezuela: 1 gold

And so the 2015 Pan American finals came to an end – a very successful tournament for the hosts.

Results from Saturday’s finals : http://americanbc.org/files/2015PanAm/Sessions%20Results/Session%2010%20Results.pdf

Friday’s results here: http://americanbc.org/files/2015PanAm/Sessions%20Results/Session%209%20Results.pdf 

All the medallists (m/f) : http://americanbc.org/files/2015PanAm/Medallist%20by%20Weight%20Cat.pdf

Every result, every bout: http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Championships/PanamericanGames2015.html

 
     
     
   
 
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