The Olympic hopes of yet another American have come to an end. That is sounding like a recurring theme.
In the women’s flyweight competition, one of only three divisions that are up for grabs on the distaff side, Marlen Esparza, the Cover Girl model and budding star of the U.S. squad, was turned back 10-8 by Cancan Ren of China, who went into the bout as the favorite, considering that she has won three world championships – in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The 26-year-old Ren had beaten Esparza before; in fact, it was this year at the world championships, which took place in China, and Ren came away with a rather easy 16-8 decision.
So at least Esparza made some progress.
Truth be told, Ren was not as proficient in this fight as she was the last time they met. She was defensive for the most part, and when you fight like that you are not likely to pull out to a big advantage over an opponent, especially when you’re in the amateur ranks. Ren seemed content to rely on her edge in height and reach, and kept Esparza away. In fact, she was actually warned twice by the referee for refusing to engage with her opponent, and that isn’t usually the type of thing you would expect out of a three-time world champion.
Of course that is the kind of thing that leaves a lot up to the judges and some observers felt that Esparza didn’t get the better end of that deal. She lost the first round by a one-point margin, and that increased to three points after the second round. Esparza thinks that she captured the last two rounds, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
While she was disappointed with the decision, Esparza was content with the medal she won. And so her amateur career comes to a likely end with four U.S. championships under her belt. With her back story, and all the interest from sponsors, it was thought that Esparza would be a pretty good candidate to springboard from the Olympics into the professional ranks. Indeed, it has been reported that there was interest from Golden Boy Promotions (Oscar De La Hoya’s company), among others.
However, Esparza’s objective doesn’t appear to be turning pro at all. Instead, she may pursue an education, with eye toward medical school. She was a class president in high school, and it has been reported that she had a 4.6 grade point average.
For Ren, the next step is the gold medal match at flyweight, where she will fight second-seeded Nicola Adams of Great Britain, who advanced into the final with an 11-6 points victory over Chungneijang Mery Korn Hmangte of India.