The United States finally got a victory in boxing, and it came on the women’s side.
Marlen Esparza used her edge in quickness to score early and often, and registered a 24-16 victory over Karlha Magliocco of Venezuela in women’s flyweight action.
Esparza is an all-around athlete, having participated in volleyball, cross-country, track and field and swimming. A native of Pasadena, Texas, where she was an outstanding student, earning a 4.6 grade point average and being elected class president. She could have had the opportunity to go to schools like Rice and Texas, right there in the Lone Star State, but she made the choice to get involved in boxing instead.
Esparza won the 2006 U.S. Women’s Championships by beating Michelle Turner and went on to grab a bronze medal at the World Championships that same year. She also won the U.S. Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2011. She did suffer a disappointment when she was routed 10-2 by Jenny Haedingz in the AIBA Women’s World Championships in 2008, but she has proven herself to easily be the class of U.S. Female flyweights.
This year at the world championships, Esparza got to qualify for the Olympic team by defeating Luu Thi Duyen of Vietnam, 28-13.
On top of her Olympic notoriety, Esparza has become a face for Cover Girl cosmetics, and apparently she puts on makeup and perfume before going out to fight. And sponsors have come to the table to get involved, among them Nike and Coca-Cola, in addition tot he cosmetics line.
She has also gained some notice from being involved with Victor Conte, the BALCO founder who has spent prison time related to steroids. The relationship began in January, and by all accounts it has been successful thus far, though the cloud of Conte hovers over the athletes he works with. Marion Jones, the ill-fated Olympic champion in track and field who had to return her medals due, in part, to steroid use.
The fight brought out boos from the crowd at times, and Esparza didn’t always initiate the action, but she did land the more effective counterpunches that kept Magliocco off-balance. Because the field in each of the women’s divisions is not big, one win gets the competitors into medal position.
Cacan Ren of China awaits in the next round, and that is a big hurdle, considering that she is a three-time world amateur champion, twice at flyweight and once at light bantamweight.