SPORTS

Star boxer Mary Spencer upset in her first bout at world boxing championship

05/14/2012 12:22 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT
QINGHUANGDAO, China - Mary Spencer's quest for a London Olympic berth has suddenly turned into a waiting game.

The three-time world champion from Windsor, Ont., was upset 18-11 by Sweden's Anna Laurell in her first bout in the 75-kilogram division at the women's world boxing championships Monday.

"Anna boxed great," Spencer said. ''I hope she does well in this tournament."

Spencer, one of Canada's top medal hopefuls in London, now must wait and see if she's awarded a wild card spot in the Summer Games.

"Hopefully I will still qualify," Spencer said. "It's very important in times like these that we get the best out of the situation. I see it as an extra week to prepare for the Olympics that I wouldn't have had I remained in the tournament."

Spencer, the top seed in her weight class, still has a chance to be awarded one of two berths set aside for fighters from the Americas after no boxer from that region advanced past the top 16.

Boxing Canada's executive director Robert Crete said wild card spots are usually determined after the finals, which are set for Saturday in China.

Crete believes Spencer has a strong chance of earning a spot on the team if the selection criteria is past performances and international ranking.

"What we're assuming they will do is look at their past records and their accomplishment," Crete said. "At this point in time Mary is the top athlete and she's the three-time world champion in a row.

"According to me, my biased opinion, they probably will take that into consideration in selecting one of the two athletes."

But Spencer suggested in an email late Monday that the spots will be given to the athletes whose opponents go furthest in the tournament.

If Spencer doesn't come out of the world championships with a spot there's still a chance she could be awarded one by the International Olympic Committee's Tripartite Commission. But the fighter says she won't know for sure if that's an option until the end of the tournament.

On the weekend, Canada's Mandy Bujold and Sandra Bizier missed their chance to qualify for London after losing their first-round bouts in the other two Olympic weight classes.

Spencer's remarkable consistency took a hit early last month though when she dropped a 27-14 decision to 17-year-old American Claressa Shields in the final of the American Boxing Confederation's continental championships.

"All l can say is that she didn't have it (Monday)," Spencer's coach Charlie Stewart said in an email. "Now we should find out by the end of the tournament if she secures a wild card spot."

Shields also lost her opening bout Monday.

Spencer, 27, was born in Wiarton, Ont., and grew up in Windsor. The five-foot-11 fighter captured gold at the Pan American Games last fall in Mexico and carried the Canadian flag at the closing ceremonies.

While she's an Olympic rookie, Spencer is already a rising star on the Canadian team. In addition to being the new face of CoverGirl, Spencer is featured prominently in a new ad campaign from the Canadian Olympic Committee.

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