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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
NOTL boxer Mckenzie Wright loses close decision in Olympic Games qualifying bout in Italy
St. Davids' Mckenzie Wright, shown working out at City Boxing Club in Niagara Falls, lost a close decision in an Olympic qualifying bout in Italy on Friday. Somer Slobodian/FILE

The Olympic Games aspirations of Niagara-on-the-Lake amateur boxer Mckenzie Wright suffered a setback Friday when she lost a split decision in a qualifying tournament in Italy.

Heading into the third and final round of a bout against Aira Villegas of the Philippines, the fighters were virtually deadlocked on the judges’ scorecards.

The Canadian unleashed a flurry of combinations and uppercuts in the final three minutes, rocking her opponent, while Villegas countered with numerous punches that missed or landed lightly.

But somehow it wasn’t enough to lift Wright to victory.

Villegas was given a 3-2 victory on points by the five-judge panel.

Wright, 33, of St. Davids potentially has one more opportunity to land a spot in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics — at a qualifying tournament in Bangkok in May.

It’s not yet known if she will compete in that event.

Fighting Friday in the round of 32 in Busto Arsizio, Italy, near Milan, Wright won the first round while Villegas narrowly took the second.

In the livestreamed match, described by the colour commentators as “terrifically competitive” with the decision on “a knife’s edge,” Wright put in a strong and gutsy performance.

She appeared to have taken the bout, but the judging panel saw it differently.

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