Canadian boxer Mckenzie Wright moves on at Olympic qualifier

Canadian boxer Mckenzie Wright won a 5-0 decision over Argentina’s Aldana Florencia Lopez on Friday to advance to the round of eight in the women’s 50-kilogram division at a last-ditch Olympic qualifier.

The 33-year-old from St. Davids, Ont., whose opponent was a bronze medallist at the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, meets Serbia’s Nina Radovanovic on Saturday.

But Sara Kali, a 32-year-old from Montreal, lost her round-of-eight bout 5-0 to Cape Verde’s Ivanusa Moreira in the 66-kilogram class.

Nine Canadians entered the Bangkok tournament trying to fight their way into this summer’s Olympic field. Just two are left.

Scarlett Delgado, 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., faces Enkhjargal Munguntsetseg in a round-of-eight bout in the 54-kilogram class Saturday at Haumark Stadium. The 25-year-old Mongolian was a bronze medallist at the 2023 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

Canadians Terris Smith, Junior Petanqui, Keven Beausejour and Doni Foreman have already lost.

Marie Alahmadieh didn’t make it to her first bout due to “unforeseen health-related issues,” according to Boxing Canada. Victor Tremblay failed to make weight for his first fight in the 57-kilogram bracket.

The Bangkok qualifier, which runs through Monday, will determine the final 51 quota places (23 for women and 28 for men) for the Paris Games this summer.

Canada has already qualified two boxers for Paris, which features 13 weight classes — seven for men and six for women.

Middleweight Tammara Thibeault (75 kilograms) and welterweight Wyatt Sanford (63.5 kilograms) booked their ticket by virtue of gold-medal performances at last year’s Pan American Games. Both were members of Canada’s five-boxer team for the Tokyo Olympics and Thibeault was a world champion in 2022.

Competitors need to crack the top four in Bangkok to punch their ticket to Paris. That measuring stick can change, however, given host France is guaranteed a maximum of six quota places (three for women and three for men) so a country can claim a spot in a weight class even if it doesn’t qualify a fighter.

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There will be no title bouts at the Bangkok event, with action in each weight class coming to a halt when the final Olympic berths are determined.

Olympic boxing qualification comes in the form of several steps.

The first were five continental qualifiers, with the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, covering the Americas. A first World Qualification Tournament was then held in Busto Arzizio, Italy, from Feb. 29 to March 12.

Competitors essentially had to finish in the top four in Italy to secure Olympic qualification, although that figure varied in some weight classes. Canada had two athletes finish in the top eight — Delgado and super-heavyweight Alexis Barriere, who subsequently opted to focus on a pro career.

Canada has won 17 Olympic boxing medals (three gold, seven silver and seven bronze), but none since 1996 when heavyweight David Defiagbon won silver in Atlanta.

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