Canadian boxer Mary Spencer was eliminated from the London Olympics on Monday after dropping a four-round decision to Jinzi Li of China.
The three-time world champion looked solid early, but Li connected with a few haymakers in the second round to move into the lead to stay. The bout could have gone either way in the final round, but Li was the aggressor and outscored Spencer 17-14 overall.
"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."
Li used a swarming, physical strategy against the Canadian, going for regular haymakers with a lot of clutching and grabbing.
"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, from Wiarton, Ont., landed a few punches early but rarely used her powerful jab. She seemed rather ordinary in the ring.
"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 defeated Li in their two previous meetings but never got on track before a near-capacity crowd at ExCel South Arena 2. The Canadian seemed flat and couldn't generate any momentum.
"I don't have an excuse for losing," Spencer said. "We went in there, it was fair and we were both given the same opportunities. She came out the better boxer today.
"No reason for losing - she just had a phenomenal fight and props to her."
Spencer had received a first-round bye in the 75kilogram category. High performance director Daniel Trepanier said her preparation was solid but Spencer was forced to fight a style that worked in Li's favour.
Spencer had been touted as one of Canada's top medal hopefuls earlier this year. However, she lost her opening bout at the world championships last spring and only got into the Olympic draw after she was given a wild-card spot by the IOC's Tripartite Commission.
"People were expecting a lot from her," Trepanier said. "It was tough for her to prepare mentally but she was really focused. She was coming to do her job here."
Li advanced to Wednesday's semifinals with the victory.
"I'm really happy but there's still more to do," she said. "I don't want to disappoint the team because they've worked very hard for this."
Li will next meet Russia's Nadezda Torlopova while Kazakhstan's Marina Volnova will face American Claressa Shields in the other semifinal. The winners will meet for gold Thursday while the losers will each receive a bronze.
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