Mandy Bujold advances to Olympic boxing quarter-finals
Canadian defeats Uzbekistan opponent by unanimous decision in Summer Games debut
By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports
Mandy Bujold made one thing clear in her Olympic boxing debut on Friday: She belongs.
The Kitchener, Ont., native scored a unanimous decision in Rio against Yodgoroy Mirzaeva of Uzbekistan in a Round of 16 fight in the women's flyweight (48-51-kilogram) class.
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"It's stress off my shoulders, now that I've been out there. The first fight is always the worst," said Bujold. "Now that I've got my groove I think it's going to go better and better as the tournament goes on."
Bujold, who was composed and quick on the counter-attack at the Pavillion 6 arena, will face Cancan Ren of China in the quarter-finals on Aug. 16 at 10:15 a.m. ET. Ren, 28, won a silver medal in the flyweight division at the 2012 London Olympics.
Four years ago, Bujold lost out on her chance to compete in London following a first-round defeat at the 2012 world championships, which doubled as an Olympic qualifier.
A random draw pitted Bujold against a world silver medallist Kim Hye-Song of North Korea. Bujold lost by two points and was done. Canada's lone wild-card spot on the Olympic team went to Mary Spencer.
"I felt like for sure I should have been there [in London]. I had beaten a lot of the girls that were there," Bujold said ahead of the Rio Games.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CAN?src=hash">#CAN</a>'s Mandy Bujold puts <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UZS?src=hash">#UZS</a>'s Yodgoroy Mirzaeva against the ropes and delivers a 1-2 punch <a href="https://t.co/sBva6myfGp">https://t.co/sBva6myfGp</a> <a href="https://t.co/zFNZ7QLKRK">https://t.co/zFNZ7QLKRK</a>—@CBCOlympics
The 29-year-old was ready to perform Friday as Bujold prevailed 3-0 on points, with the three judges scoring the four-round bout 40-36, 39-37, 40-36.
"I just wanted to be really in the moment and really happy and enjoy," said Bujold on savouring her Olympic debut. "I think I did."
Mirzaeva, who is known for her quick hands, chased Bujold around the ring early on, but was unable to land punches consistently.
With 53 seconds left in Round 2, the combination of a Bujold punch and Mirzaeva getting her feet tangled sent the 20-year-old to the canvas.
But she rebounded, connecting on a eye-catching right with 20 seconds remaining in the round.
However, Bujold was able to shake it off and found the proper range against her opponent as the fight progressed.
9-time Canadian champion
Bujold won a gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games and defended her title last summer in Toronto, beating world champion Marla Esparza of the United States in the final. Esparza is not competing in Rio.
The nine-time national champion might be Canada's best bet to medal in Brazil, with Ariane Fortin (women's 75kg) and Arthur Biyarslanov (men's 64kg) also competing.
There are four medals given out in boxing since bronze is handed to each semifinal loser, meaning Bujold's odds of winning a medal in the 12-boxer women's flyweight field in Rio are one in three.
Biyarslanov scored a 3-0 victory Thursday over Obada Alkasbeh of Jordan in his opening fight in the light welterweight division. In 2015, he won Canada's first Pan Am gold in boxing since Chris Clarke in 1975.
Fortin, Canada's female boxer of the year in 2006, 2008 and 2009, opens the Rio tournament with a Round of 16 match on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.
Canada's last Olympic boxing medal was 1996 when David Defiagbon of Halifax took silver.
With files from The Canadian Press