(TORONTO, CANADA) – 2012 Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) and Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) both made triumphant Pan American Games debuts on Monday afternoon at the Oshawa Sports Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Olympic duo clinched medals in their first Pan American Games with wins in Monday’s quarterfinal competition.
Esparza competed in the first women’s bout of the 2015 Pan American Games in a flyweight contest with Nicaragua’s Claudia Parrales Guevara. The reigning world champion showcased a dazzling display of boxing prowess in her Pan Am debut, landing a wide array of punches and evading Guevara’s shots. She grew her lead with every round and took the victory by wide, unanimous decision to advance to the semifinals. Esparza will face Puerto Rico’s Monica Gonzalez Rivera for a berth in the gold medal bout on Tuesday night.
“I think it was a good fight and I got to get used to backstage and the canvas,” Esparza said of her Pan Am debut. “She keeps her hands really tight so I was really just trying to go to the body and when I saw her coming in, that’s when I’d go up top. I was really trying to do more movement so I don’t just rush in. I’m working on that and that’s where the bodywork comes in.”