By Ryan Maquiñana
Raquel Miller gave a valiant effort but dropped a 21-6 decision to Pittsburgh, Pa.'s Tika Hemingway on Friday night, ending the San Francisco middleweight's dreams for the 2012 London Games at the U.S. Olympic Trials semifinals in Airway Heights, Wash.
In a rematch of their tournament opener on Monday that was also won by Hemingway, Miller was able to utilize more movement and establish distance to get into range to find a home for her one-two and powerful left hook, but the judges felt the Bayview native's opponent was more accurate as the fight progressed with right crosses and the occasional left uppercut her weapons of choice.
However, while Miller acknowledges her foe deserved the decision, the final margin left much to be desired from her point of view, as she was effective in stretches throughout the four-round bout.
"I'll be honest. I think she got me with the cleaner shots, and that I was a little wild with my shots, but I don't think the final score reflected the real result," Miller said. "For them to say I only landed one or two punches per round was ridiculous, but that's O.K.
"They counted me out before I even got here, and here I was one of the last girls standing after beating the number one seed in Franchon Crews and the girl who knocked me out of the National PAL last year (Andrecia Wasson)."
Hemingway moves on to tomorrow's 165-pound finals against Flint, Mich.'s Claressa Shields. If Shields emerges triumphant, she will be crowned champion, while Hemingway will need to beat her on both Saturday and Sunday by virtue of her earlier loss to Shields on Thursday.
On Miller's end, while the loss stings, she accomplished what many thought improbable, as not too many fighters have earned a bronze medal in the Olympic Trials with less than 15 fights in the Open Division and only two years total experience of competition.
"I hope my fighting has helped those people who want to do something big even though there are others telling you that you can't do something," she added. "All you have to do is trust God who strengthens you, and believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to, just never lose faith and focus."
Miller's run can be truly classified as wildly successful as she and trainer Ben Bautista of downtown San Francisco's SFC Boxing represented the burgeoning Northern California fight scene with pride.
"I'm proud of her. She left it all in the ring," Bautista said. "I saw that after the first round Raquel getting only one point and the other girl getting five points in a closer round that the judges were not going to be in our favor. She went all out in her last round. She showed what true heart, dedication, and determination can do. She showed the world she belongs here. She only has 15 Open division fights. She'll be back."
Miller had one last message for her supporters.
"Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my cousin Da'dream Thomas' passing. My fight was dedicated to her. She was my heart. It's been a real emotional journey. I love you all, and I'm not done. I'm fighting in (U.S.) Nationals in two weeks, so there's no stopping me now. I'm a warrior, and this isn't the last you've heard of me!"
Boxing correspondent Ryan Maquiñana is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out his blog at norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.