Canadian boxer Mary Spencer lost a 17-14 decision to Li Jinzi of China in the Olympic women's 75-kilogram weight class on Monday in London.
The Windsor, Ont. native was awarded a bye in the women's draw, advancing straight to Monday's quarter-final, and a win would have guaranteed her at least a bronze medal.
"She picked up her pace and got her lead and it's hard to get back," Spencer said in a release. "The last three tournaments I have been upset. I knew it was going to be tough — I'm not saying it's easy, but it was tougher than I thought."
It was a surprising result since Spencer beat Li in their two previous meetings and a win would have guaranteed her a medal.
"You win some and you lose some," said Spencer's longtime coach Charlie Stewart. "It's just when you lose them that it counts the most."
One of the most prominent faces of the Canadian Olympic team, Spencer was considered a top medal contender in London.
Spencer had an aggressive start, forcing Li into a standing eight-count in the first round, which the Canadian took 3-2 in points.
Li rebounded, taking the second round 5-2 to lead 7-5 heading into the third round, which was judged to be a 3-3 draw.
The raucous, near-capacity crowd was cheering her on but Spencer couldn't find her rhythm, landing a few punches early but looking rather ordinary throughout the four-round bout.
"All she needed were nice long straight punches [to] keep her away because she's got the height and reach advantage," Stewart said. "But it didn't happen."
With Spencer trailing 10-8 into the final round, Li was called for holding, handing the Canadian two points and drawing the fighters even. However, Li took that fourth round 7-6 for the victory and berth into the semis.
The bout was still close until the end, in part because Li was given a two-point penalty in the fourth round. The Chinese fighter was the aggressor in the final minutes and connected on some late combinations. "I didn't expect that kind of pressure on me," Spencer said. "I expected more jabbing. But I have to adjust. It's my fault for not adjusting."
Spencer, a native of Wiarton, Ont., who lives in Windsor, made mistakes that Li jumped on.
"In Olympic boxing if you don't have your hands up, you're giving free points," said Canadian team coach Sylvain Gagnon. "You can't win the fight like that."
Spencer will be 31 when the 2016 Summer Games are held in Rio. Her Olympic debut may have been a loss but that doesn't mean she's going to quit.
"I love this," she said. "I love boxing and I still want a gold medal."
Later Monday, super heavyweight Simon Kean of Trois-Rivieres, Que., lost 20-6 to Ivan Dychko of Kazakhstan in a men's quarter-final bout.