Marlen Esparza

Marlen Esparza
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Marlen Esparza posts tearful videos after missing Olympic team

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Marlen Esparza became one of the first London 2012 Olympic medalists to bow out of Rio 2016 qualifying, losing at the U.S. Olympic boxing trials Saturday.

Esparza, 26, earned 2012 Olympic bronze and 2014 World Championships gold, but it’ll be Ginny Fuchs who represents the U.S. in the flyweight division in Rio, should she earn the U.S. a berth early next year.

On Sunday, Esparza took to Instagram to express her emotions in a series of nine videos. The transcript, followed by the videos:

“OK, everyone, I haven’t been on social media, and I’m sure we all know that I didn’t win at these Olympic trials, so I just wanted to give you guys a little feedback.”

“So I had to get myself together. I did everything I could do at this tournament, and I have a lot left. And I just want to say thank you to everybody who helped me.”

“I’ve been through a lot. And I’ve been doing this since I was 12. It’s not completely over, and for everybody who wished bad against me.”

“I know you think that I was overrated or I didn’t deserve it or didn’t want it, but this is my life, this is my soul.”

“I’m sorry that you feel that way, but it’s not the truth. I worked hard my whole life for this, and if it wasn’t meant for me, then it wasn’t.”

“God has his plan, and I’ll figure it out, and it’ll be OK. But thank you, again, for everybody that’s there for me.”

“And to everyone who follows me, who loves me, supports me, this isn’t the end. I’m going to show that just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re going to fail forever.”

“I thought these videos were appropriate so you could see me again. For everybody who loves me and supports me, I know who you are and thank you, but it’s not over, and I’m excited for the future.”

“All right, so I can’t handle much more again. I’m out. Thank you guys, and you’ll be seeing me again.”

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Marlen Esparza, first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist, will miss Rio 2016

Marlen Esparza

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields and surprising flyweight Virginia Fuchs won their weight divisions at the U.S. Olympic women’s boxing trials Saturday night.

Lightweight Jajaira Gonzalez beat Mikaela Mayer by unanimous decision in a rematch to force a decisive third bout between the fighters Sunday for the trials championship.

Shields beat rival Tika Hemingway by unanimous decision, while Fuchs eliminated Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza from contention for her second Olympic trip.

Esparza, the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist and a 2014 World champ, was in the Nike “Snow Day” commercial published Thursday with sports stars including Rob Gronkowski and Carli Lloyd.

The three U.S. trials winners will compete in international Olympic qualifiers next year to earn a berth in the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Shields remained firmly on course for her second Olympic berth, using her international experience and brute punching power to take down her fellow middleweight and greatest personal rival.

The hard-hitting Shields was the only American boxing gold medalist in the London Games at just 17 years old, and she has only solidified her international reign atop the division by going undefeated in the last three years.

“I landed the cleanest and the hardest shots every round, so I knew it was unanimous,” Shields said. “I knew it wasn’t split. … I know from my international experience, as long as I’m landing the cleaner shots, leaning on the ropes doesn’t matter.”

Shields improved to 66-1 in her international amateur career with 40 consecutive victories, including titles at the 2014 world championships and at the Pan-Am Games earlier this year.

“I can’t believe I’m [going to be] a two-time Olympian,” Shields said. “It’s just crazy to think about it. It’s definitely different, and I feel like I was little bit scared going into 2012. I had just had my first loss. This time, I haven’t lost in three years, and I feel like there’s nothing that can stop me at the 2016 Olympics this time around.”

Fuchs edged Esparza for the second time this week, winning both bouts by split decision and completing the most unlikely result of the week with the rematch victory.

“I look forward to the Olympics now,” Fuchs said. “I haven’t made it yet, so when I get home, that’s on my schedule to train for.”

Esparza and Shields were the only Americans to win boxing medals in London, and Esparza has become a popular mainstream athlete with a Cover Girl endorsement deal and commercial appearances for McDonalds and Coca-Cola. Esparza also has a boxing boot made specifically for her by Nike.

But Fuchs upset Esparza’s Rio plan with a gritty performance in the trials against her fellow Houston-area fighter.

“She’s a great fighter, so I knew it was going to be close,” Fuchs said. “It was a little closer than I wanted. … Every fight we’ve had has been real close, so I knew I would have to dig deep and she would have to dig deep to win this. I wanted it more, obviously, because I got the win, but I’ve got to give her credit.”

The 18-year-old Gonzalez rebounded from a split-decision loss to Mayer earlier in the week with a 3-0 decision in the rematch, applying constant pressure and her trademark high-volume punching for a tidy win over her taller opponent.

Gonzalez said she still felt “the first fight (with Mayer) should have been 3-0” in her favor.

“This one, I put it in my head that I had to go non-stop,” Gonzalez added. “Not let her breathe, not let her try to catch her breath. I think my aggression really helped today. I felt stronger.”

The Los Angeles-area natives will meet in a rubber match Sunday.

Gonzalez is a decorated junior fighter with multiple world titles to her credit, but is fighting for a senior division title for the first time.

“I’ve got to do a little better,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve got to do a lot better, actually.”

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Claressa Shields, Marlen Esparza win World Boxing Championships

Claressa Shields
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The first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalists, Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza, won their first World Championships on Monday.

Shields, who won 2012 Olympic gold at the first Games to include women’s boxers, won a unanimous decision over China’s Qian Li in the Worlds middleweight final in Jeju, South Korea.

Shields, 19, was named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament.

Esparza, 25, who won 2012 Olympic bronze, took her first Worlds gold in her fifth try. She prevailed in a 2-1 decision over England’s Lisa Jane Whiteside in the flyweight final Monday.

“My nerves have impacted me in the past but because I’ve been here so many times before, it wasn’t as nerve-racking,” said Esparza, who was ill during the tournament, according to USA Boxing. “I’ve been fighting so much that I could make adjustments and think in a way that I wasn’t able to before. In the past, I’ve just reacted off of instinct and this time, I was able to think.”

Tiara Brown added a featherweight bronze medal for the U.S. Brown also won the 2012 World Championship but was not on the London Olympic team.

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