In just the second Olympics to feature women’s boxing, the fighters will contest four two-minute rounds. There are also changes to how the matches will be scored in Rio. Mainly, the judges hand in their scorecards after each round, so there will no longer be a “live” score during the fight.
There are only three weight classes for women: flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight.
Nicola Adams, from Great Britain is the first woman ever to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. The Leeds fighter took on Chinese great Ren Cancan in London for the historic win. Adams sailed through the Rio qualifiers in Turkey, largely due to strong footwork and defensive stands. Ranked number one in the world, the 33 -year-old could find herself in rematch with Cancan in the finals. No female has ever won the Olympic gold medal twice.
Canadian Mandy Bujold is fighting out of the other half of the bracket. The 29-year-old from Kitchener, and ten-time national champion, will look to display her outside efficiency when she faces Yodgoroy Mirzaeva, a lesser-known fighter from Uzbekistan who’s also making her Olympic debut. Bujold made a name for herself during the 2015 Pan Am Games with a narrow victory over American world champion Marlen Esparza, in the gold medal final. She comes into Rio with quite a bit of pressure from her home country. Canada’s last Olympic boxing medal was 1996 when David Defiagbon of Halifax took silver.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the reigning Olympic Lightweight gold medalist, and five-time world champion, is one of the most accomplished female athletes in her country’s history. Known for keeping her head down and delivering a snappy right-arm jab, Taylor is a legend in women’s boxing. However, she suffered a pair of losses earlier this year. Once in a continental qualifier, then in the semi-finals of the world championships. She will face the winner of the bout between Brazil’s Araujo and Finland’s Potkonen in the quarter-final. Taylor is on course to meet the two women who have defeated her already this year if she is to replicate her London achievement.
If results go according to seeding, Taylor could face Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna in the semi-final and France’s Estelle Mossely in the final. Mossely stunned Taylor in a controversial loss in her bid for a sixth straight world title when she took a razor-thin decision at the championship semi-finals.
For as much as Katie Taylor is looking for redemption, France’s Estelle Mossely needs to prove she has staying power. At 5’6”, 132 lbs, Mossely is a gifted athlete. She moves fast and hits hard. With the exception of the recent world title, Mossely has a losing record against Taylor.
Austrailia’s Shelly Watts turned 29 in Rio. She’ll be making an Olympic debut when she steps into the ring against Italy’s Irma Testa, and, if successful, her next fight will be against Mossely. Watt’s shouldn’t be overlooked. She has enough experience to make necessary adjustments in the short rounds. Of her 11 potential opponents in Rio, Watts has fought against two and sparred with five of them.
In the most hyped of the divisions, USA’s Claressa Shields is the country’s best hope at a medal. The first American female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal isn’t just looking to repeat in Rio. Shields has a goal to dominate. Shields hasn’t lost a bout since London, improving her record to 74-1, and has won her sport’s last two world championships. The 21-year-old has added a fierce upper-cut to an already menacing inside game. Living up to her nickname, “T-Rex”, Shields stands 5’10” and 165 lbs. Her natural born power is now paired with four more years of experience. Shields is the heavy favorite to win this division.
A tough top half of the draw includes Morocco’s Khadija Mardi and Canadian Ariane Fortin. Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall defeated Shields at the 2012 World Championship, prior to the London Games.