The 7th edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships will be held in Qinhuangdao, China, where record number of boxers and countries are expected to participate. With women's boxing making its debut at the London 2012 Olympic Games, this event will also double up as the qualification tournament for three weight categories, Flyweight, Lightweight and Middleweight.
343 woman boxers from 77 nations entered this historic event in China with these numbers smashing all previous records. Joining the host nation will be Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, who will be competing with the maximum number of ten boxers while Canada, France, Kenya, Romania and United States will send nine representatives each. Australia and Vietnam will be competing with eight while DPR Korea, Germany, Poland, Serbia and Venezuela travel to this qualification event with seven athletes. (Please take note that these figures have been taken before the general weigh-in).
New nations will be competing for the very first time as Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Bolivia, Colombia, DR Congo, Honduras, Jamaica, Nigeria, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uzbekistan all look to make an impact on the world stage.
With women's boxing making its debut at the London 2012 Olympic Games, huge media interest will be bestowed on these championships. 2012 will mark a watershed moment in the history of the sport.
AIBA announced that boxing would be separated into men and women events at its 13th congress held in Beijing in 1994. The first official international tournament for women boxers was then held in 1997 with the inaugural AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships taking place four years later in Scranton, USA. After six successful editions, AIBA is now organising the first Olympic qualification tournament for women boxers in conjunction with the event in Qinhuangdao.
Following the International Olympic Committee's decision in 2009 to include women's boxing into the Olympic program, the sport has reached a new phase in its development with a huge increase in the number of participants worldwide.
Although celebrating the crowning of ten World Champions across all weight categories, this AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships will have special significance for the Flyweight (51KG), Lightweight (60KG) and Middleweight (75KG) divisions.
In the Olympic Flyweight class, India's five-time AIBA World Champion, 29-year-old living legend Mary Kom Chungneijang is one of the big favourites in the competition but will expect some tough competition when she takes to the ring in China. England's current European Champion and two-time AIBA World Championships silver medallist Nicola Adams is unbeaten since February 2011, while China's two-time AIBA World Champion Ren Cancan, Poland's former AIBA World Champion Karolina Michalczuk, and Russian AIBA World Champion Yelena Savelyeva, will all seek to get those all-important quota places and challenge for the World Title. Each one has gold medal aspirations in Qinhuangdao.
US National Olympic Trials winner Marlen Esparza is the most experienced boxer in her team, while France's European Championships silver medallist Sarah Ourahmoune, Romania's European Champion Steluta Duta and DPR Korea's AIBA World Championships silver medallist Kim Hye Song are also all medal contenders.
Bulgaria's EU Champion Stoyka Petrova, Thailand's Asian Indoor Games winner Peamwilai Laopeam, Canada's Panamerican Games winner Mandy Bujold, Argentina's multiple Panamerican Champion Paola Benavides, Philippines' Nesty Petecio, Finland's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Hanne Maekinen, Germany's tough Azize Nimani and Ukraine's European Champion Tatyana, are all also excellent boxers that have the skills to cause upsets at these AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships.
At Lightweight, Irish national icon, three-time AIBA World Champion and five-time European Champion Katie Taylor will face a flurry of quality rivals with Russia's two-time AIBA World Champion Sofya Ochigava and Turkey's two-time AIBA World Champion Gulsum Tatar both serious threats. Taylor met Ochigava twice in the past two years and both have one win to their names.
India's former AIBA World Champion, Sarita Devi Laishram, moved up three weight classes this year and won the gold medal at the Asian Championships in March so will be expected to go far in Qinhuangdao where the host nation's best fighter, Dong Cheng, will also want to show her pedigree.
England's Olympic Test Event winner Natasha Jonas, Tajikistan's 19-year-old Asian Champion Mavzuna Choriyeva, Brazil's multiple Panamerican Champion Adriana Araujo and Puerto Rico's Panamerican Games winner Kiria Tapia are very dangerous rivals for the division's top favourites. Morocco's Hasna Lachgar won the last four competitions she entered while Sweden's two-time European Championships bronze medallist Helena Falk and Romania's former AIBA World Champion Mihaela Lacatus have returned to the world of boxing to try and compete at the Olympic Games.
In the Middleweight class, a huge number of world class fighters will be competing for those quota places. Canada's three-time AIBA World Champion Mary Spencer, who trains sixteen times a week, Russia's AIBA World Heavyweight Champion Nadezhda Torlopova, China's former AIBA World Champion Li Jinzi, Brazil's Light Heavyweight World Champion Roseli Feitosa, Hungary's two-time AIBA World Champion Maria Kovacs and Sweden's veteran World Champion Anna Laurell, will all be looking for gold medals and trying to qualify for London 2012.
Despite this jaw-dropping list of names, all the talk will be of 17-year-old US teenager Claressa Shields, who has been installed as the top favourite. The teenage superstar has sent shockwaves through the sport with her recent awe-inspiring performances. She won the National Olympic Trials and secured the gold medal at the Panamerican Championships in Canada, where she triumphed over legend Mary Spencer in sensational style. The extremely strong Shields is still unbeaten and travels to China with her sights firmly set on taking gold.
England's AIBA World Championships silver medallist Savannah Marshall moved up a weight class and now has great expectations in China. Netherlands' European Championships silver medallist Nouchka Fontijn and Dominican Republic's Panamerican Games silver medallist Yenebier Guillen will also be gunning for glory.
Azerbaijan's former Russian National Champion Yelena Vystropova, Kazakhstan's Asian Champion Dariga Shakimova, Norway's European Champion Lotte Lien, India's Asian Championships silver medallist Pooja Rani and Ukraine's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Liliya Durnyeva must not be discarded in this division.
It promises to be a spectacular show with the cream of the crop of women's boxing taking to the canvas for two weeks of top quality action.
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