Thursday 22 March 2018

Early setback for new US boxing coach Billy Walsh

Billy Walsh watches the Women’s Olympic Boxing team trials at Memphis Cook Convention Centre
Billy Walsh watches the Women’s Olympic Boxing team trials at Memphis Cook Convention Centre

Sean McGoldrick

New US boxing coach Billy Walsh has suffered an early setback in his new job. London Olympic bronze medallist Marlen Esparza – who is the current number one rated flyweight in the world – has suffered a shock defeat at the US Olympic trials in Memphis, Tennessee.

Esparza, who was beaten by Cavan’s Ceire Smith in a tournament in Warsaw in September, endured two consecutive losses to Virginia Fuchs in Memphis.

Esparza had won the previous five clashes against Fuchs but the latter got the verdict in the final on Saturday night on a split 2-1 decision to repeat the win she fashioned over Esparza in an earlier round of the tournament.

London Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields won the middleweight category to become the first US American female boxer to win two straight Olympic trials and she is now bidding to become the US boxer male or female to win two Olympic gold medals.

From an Irish perspective the main interest was in the lightweight category where Katie Taylor hopes to defend her Olympic title in Rio next August. 

Nineteen year old Jajaira Gonzalez from California, a former World junior champion and the 2014 Olympic youth gold medallist surprised the previously unbeaten Mikaela Mayer.

The latter gets another chance as she has a a box off against Gonzalez later today. The latter will be a familiar figure for the Irish camp as she defeated Mayo’s Ciara McGinty in the final of the Youth Olympics.

Due to the rescheduling of the 2016 women’s World boxing championships, the three American girls will initially get a chance to qualify for the Olympics at a tournament in Argentina in March and will have a second chance, if needed, at the World championships in May in Kazakhstan.

At the latter event Katie Taylor will be bidding for a sixth consecutive World title. All medalists at the championships will qualify for Rio but Taylor may have already earned her passage to Rio as there is a European qualifying tournament in Istanbul earlier in the spring.

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