The ten members of the US Women’s Boxing Team have arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan, one week before the start of the 2016 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. The team has high hopes of success under the tutelage of head coach Billy Walsh, with reigning Olympic and World Champion Claressa Shields leading the charge for gold medals and Rio 2016 quota places.
Mikaela Mayer was among the athletes on the plane, and the lightweight has enjoyed a remarkable trajectory since beating rival Jajaira Gonzalez in the National Olympic Trials to join the squad. Two months ago Mayer took gold at the AIBA American Olympic Qualification Event in Buenos Aires, already securing her a place at Rio 2016.
“I am looking forward to the start of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Astana and I will do my best. I am always working on getting full rotation out of my punches and generating force from the ground up. There is no point in being tall and long if you are not using your reach,” said US star Mikaela Mayer ahead of the competition.
Flyweight Virginia Fuchs also won her way through the US National Olympic Trials before taking gold at the Rio Test Event at the end of 2015, and will now be looking to take both a medal and a quota place home from Astana. Following her defeat to Fuchs in the trials, defending AIBA Flyweight World Champion Marlen Esperanza moves down to light flyweight to challenge for a second world title.
With Youth Olympic, Youth World and Junior World titles already to her name, Jajaira Gonzalez will be among the favourites in the light welterweight competition, while Christina Cruz (+54kg) and Franchon Crews (+81kg) will both be keen to make a return to the World Championship podium. California’s Stalacia Leggett, Colorado’s Naomi Graham and New Jersey’s Shadasia Green are the three reigning US National Champions making their debuts in Astana.
The US team in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships
48 kg: Marlen Esparza
51 kg: Virginia Fuchs
54 kg: Christina Cruz
57 kg: Stalacia Leggett
60 kg: Mikaela Mayer
64 kg: Jajaira Gonzalez
69 kg: Naomi Graham
75 kg: Claressa Shields
81 kg: Franchon Crews
+81 kg: Shadasia Green