Girl power a winner as women’s boxing makes Olympics debut

Karlha Magiliocco of Venezuela, right, in action with Erica Matos of Brazil during the debut of women's boxing at the Olympics on Sunday.
(Scott Heavey / Getty Images)

LONDON — Here’s a bit of trivia worth hanging on to since it might win you some big bucks on “Jeopardy” one day.

When women’s boxing made its Olympic debut in these Games on Sunday, the first bout, a flyweight fight, was won by Russia’s Elena Savelyeva, who beat North Korea’s Hye Song Kim, 12-9. And for those doubters who said women’s boxing wouldn’t be competitive or compelling, Savelyeva won three of the four rounds by just a point while the final round was scored even.

Then her coach celebrated the win in a way he probably never tried in a men’s fight — he reached over and kissed his fighter.

“I feel proud to make history in boxing,” Savelyeva said. “It was amazing.”


PHOTOS: Olympic highlights from Day 9

The Excel Arena’s boxing venue was jam-packed for the women, whose fights were far more interesting and action-packed than the majority of the men’s bouts in these Games. But Ching-Kuo Wu, president of amateur boxing’s international governing body, was sold on the sport even before the program began, saying “If women’s boxing is successful in London, I think there is the real possibility that we will ask for more women’s boxing by 2016.”

Currently the women’s Olympic program features just three weight classes — flyweight, lightweight and middleweight — to 10 for the men. The women also fight four two-minute rounds — which is what the men fought in Beijing four years ago — while the men are boxing three rounds of three minutes each in London.

No one has come forward to explain why there’s a difference.


The first U.S. fighter to compete in women’s Olympic boxing, Seattle lightweight Queen Underwood, opened the division by losing her fight with Great Britain’s Natasha Jones, 21-13, on Sunday.

Flyweight Marlen Esparza of Houston — you may have seen her in commercials for CoverGirl and McDonald’s during the Games’ telecasts or on Telemundo hawking Coca-Cola in Spanish — and middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Mich., make their debuts Monday after receiving first-round byes.


London Olympics: What to watch for on Sunday


Serena and Venus Williams win gold in women’s doubles

Teenager Missy Franklin wins her fourth gold in medley relay