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Team USA's Elite Women Score Victories on Sunday at the 2016 World Boxing Championships
by Julie Goldsticker/USA Boxing
May 22, 2016
     
   
   

(MAY 22) COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. - Team USA bounced back from a rough day on Saturday with four preliminary round wins on Sunday at the 2016 Women's World Boxing Championships. Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.), Naomi Graham (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) and Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) all recorded victories over the two sessions of action at the Barys Arena in Astana, Kazakhstan. Stalacia Leggett (Quartz Hill, Calif.) dropped her second bout of the tournament in the featherweight division on Sunday.

Cruz opened the day for her U.S. squad in her first bout of the 2016 event. An international veteran, Cruz used her experience in a bantamweight preliminary bout with Helina Bruyevich of Belarus. She took three of the four rounds on all of the judges scorecards to win the match by unanimous decision. Cruz will compete in quarterfinal action on Tuesday afternoon in a bout with France's Delphine Mancini.

Graham competed in her first-ever World Championships bout on Sunday afternoon in Astana and she made a triumphant entrance in to the event. The U.S. Army boxer faced Ukraine's Marila Badulina in welterweight preliminary competition. The two battled in a closely contested match over the eight minutes but Graham pulled out the bout by split division to advance on to the quarterfinal round. She will face Germany's Nadine Apetz on Tuesday afternoon for a spot in the medal round.

Another World Championships veteran, Crews represented Team USA in Sunday's light heavyweight competition. She took on Italy's Flavia Severin in preliminary round action. Crews controlled the match to win a strong unanimous decision victory and close the opening session for Team USA. The victory earned her a spot in the quarterfinal round with fellow long-time boxer Maria Kovacs of Hungary on Tuesday afternoon.

As usual, Olympic gold medalist Shields thrilled the crowd with another dominant performance in the middleweight division. Shields and Nafisakhon Askarova of Uzbekistan faced off in her second bout of the tournament on Sunday evening at the Barys Arena. She showcased her power and skills in the second round bout to win a unanimous decision and move on to Tuesday night's middleweight quarterfinals. Shields will take on Kazakhstan's Violleta Knyazeva in her next bout.

Leggett opened the tournament with a victory in her first bout of the tournament but she wasn't able to add a second victory on Sunday. She dropped a unanimous decision to Italy's Alessia Mesiano on Sunday evening.

Two United States boxers fell on Saturday at the Women's World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. Flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas) and lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) each dropped their second round bouts in hard-fought contests at the Barys Arena.

Fuchs battled Azerbaijan's Anna Alimardanova in her second bout of the World Championships in Astana. The four round contest was closely contested throughout with the match resulting in a tiebreaker on one of the judges scorecards. Yet Alimardanova pulled out the bout by one round on the other two scorecards to win a 2-0 decision over Fuchs. Although she is eliminated from the tournament, Fuchs can still clinch a berth in the Olympics Games if Canada's Mandy Bujold advances to the semifinal round. Bujold won gold at the recent Americas Qualifier and due to to Fuchs third round finish at the Americas Qualifier, the American could still earn a spot in Rio with a top four placement by Bujold.

Mayer competed against fellow 2016 Olympian Junhua Yin of China in the evening session. The two boxers met previously in lightweight action with each boxer owning previous victories. Although Mayer defeated Yin twice in earlier bouts, she wasn't able to add another win in the 2016 World Championships. Yin claimed a lightweight victory over Mayer in Saturday's action, eliminating her from the World Championships. Mayer will look to avenge the loss should the two meet in this summer's Olympic Games. The American lightweight clinched her Olympic spot at the Americas Qualifier in March and today's bout will not impact her qualification.

Three American boxers will box in the early session on Monday at the Barys Arena in Astana, Kazakhstan. 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) will make her tournament debut on Monday afternoon at the light flyweight division. The returning flyweight champion will face China's Chorong Bak in her 2016 edition opener in the first bout of the day at 2 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET). Light welterweight Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) will box in her second bout of the event following a third round stoppage in her opener on Friday. She will take on China's Wenlu Yang in bout five of the first session at approximately 2:50 p.m. local time (4:50 a.m. ET). Heavyweight Shadasia Green (Newark, N.J.) will compete in her first World Championships match on Monday afternoon, battling Romania's Elena Turcin in the ninth bout of the session at approximately 3:50 p.m. local time (5:50 a.m. ET).

The competition is being livestreamed on the AIBA website at www.aiba.org. For all of the tournament brackets, competition schedule, bout sheets and current results, go to: www.aiba.org/aiba-womens-world-boxing-championships-astana-2016.

Coaches Billy Walsh (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Israel Acosta (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Benny Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.) are leading the U.S. team in Kazakhstan.

Over 275 boxers from 70 nations are competing in the ninth edition of the Women's World Championships. The first-ever Women's World Boxing Championships took place in Scranton, Pa., in 2001 and has grown exponentially since that time. The 2016 event is the second world championships since the Olympic debut of women's boxing at the 2012 Olympic Games. While only three women's weight divisions are contested in Olympic competition, all 10 weight classes are showcased in world championships action.

Sunday's U.S. Results

119 lbs/54 kg: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y./USA, dec. Helina Bruyevich, BLR, 3-0
125 lbs/57 kg: Alessia Mesiano, ITA, dec. Stalacia Leggett, Quartz Hill, Calif./USA, 3-0
152 lbs/69 kg: Naomi Graham, Colorado Springs, Colo./USA, dec. Marila Badulina, UKR, 2-1
165 lbs/75 kg: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Nafisakhon Askarova, UZB, 3-0
178 lbs/81 kg: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md./USA, dec. Flavia Severin, ITA, 3-0

Saturday's U.S. Results

112 lbs/51 kg: Anna Alimardanova, AZE, dec. Virginia Fuchs, Kemah, Texas/USA, 2-0
132 lbs/60 kg: Junhua Yin, CHN, dec. Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA, 3-0

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