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Claressa Shields Wins the United States' First Ever Pan American Games Gold Medal in Women's Boxing
by Julie Goldsticker
July 25, 2015

(JULY 25)  TORONTO, CANADA - Making history is nothing new to 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) and neither is winning gold medals. Shields did both on Friday night in championship round action at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. The reigning world champion filled the only remaining hole in her resume with a unanimous decision victory over the Dominican Republic's Yenebier Guillen in the women's middleweight gold medal bout. 

Friday's meeting was the fourth contest between Shields and Guillen with the American Olympic champion taking victories in all of their previous bouts. She continued her winning streak in their Pan Am Games match-up. Shields controlled the first round with strong combinations and found a home for her stiff jab and right hand. The trend continued in to the second stanza as Shields' combinations and movement allowed her to allude Guillen's offensive output. In the third round, the referee inexplicably took a point from Shields for lowering her head while she evaded Guillen's straight left hands. The Olympic champion responded aggressively to the point being taken, stepping up her output late in the round. Shields switched stances from southpaw to orthodox throughout the bout, adding to Guillen's confusion in the women's middleweight finale. She finished the bout in typical impressive fashion, landing a thudding right hand in the final seconds of the point to put an exclamation point on her performance. Despite the point being taken, Shields won every round on all three judges' scorecards to take the gold medal by unanimous decision. 

"She came out and fought a little bit different this time. I've never had a point taken from me before and I've boxed in a lot of tournaments in a lot of countries with a lot of different referees and I've never had a point taken for moving my head," Shields said. "That still didn't scare me though, I knew it was just one point. I knew I won the first three rounds easy and in the fourth round, she started to move and didn't really try to fight. I just kept pressuring her and won a unanimous decision."  

Shields boxed three times on her way to a Pan Am Games gold medal, opening the tournament with a victory over Brazil's Flavia Figueiredo in the quarterfinal round. She added a win over Argentina's Lucia Perez in semifinal competition prior to her championship bout on Friday. 

"I feel like I definitely had a huge improvement from my first match here. In my first fight, I did a whole lot of fighting off the ropes, I guess I was doing the rope-a-dope," Shields said of her tournament opener. "I think my best fight here was my second fight against Argentina. Against Dominican Republic, she's very strong. I don't think a lot of people realize how strong she is. I'm strong, but she's strong too. She wants to throw that one big punch. She knocks girls out but you're not going to catch me with a big shot like that so I had to be really strong with her. I have a lot to work on over the next year. I need to get faster, smarter and stronger of course." 

Women's boxing made its Pan American Games debut in the 2011 event, one year before the sport's first appearance on the Olympic docket. As the U.S. team failed to medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, Shields' gold medal is the first for an American woman in Pan Am competition. 

Shields has won gold in every major international event contested in women's boxing, taking titles in elite and youth world championships competition as well as her historic win at the 2012 Olympic Games. The 20-year-old recently moved from her home in Flint, Mich., to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to focus fully on her run at a second Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.              

Two more American boxers will compete for Pan American Games gold in flyweight competition on Saturday at the Oshawa Sports Centre in Toronto. USA Boxing flyweight national champion Antonio Vargas (Kissimmee, Fla.) will take on Cuban Olympian and 2011 Pan American Games silver medalist Yosbany Veitia in the men's flyweight finale and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza will battle Canada's Mandy Bujold in the women's flyweight championship bout. 

Coaches Ed Weichers (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Israel Acosta (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Joe Guzman (Fountain, Colo.) are leading the United States boxing team at the 2015 Pan American Games. 

U.S. Results

165 lbs/female: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Yenebier Guillen, DOM, 3-0


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