Reigning Olympic Champion Claressa
Shields Clinches Spot in Her Second Straight Gold Medal Bout with
Dominant Semifinal Win in Brazil
by Julie Goldsticker/USA Boxing
August 20, 2016
(AUG 20) RIO DE JANEIRO,
BRAZIL - 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint,
Mich.) joyfully punched her way to her second consecutive gold
medal bout in today's boxing action at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Shields faced off with Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova in the
first of two middleweight semifinal bouts at Riocentro Pavilion
6 in Rio de Janeiro on Friday afternoon.
Shields came flying out of corner at the opening bell and went
straight at Shakimova, making her intentions known early in the
contest. The reigning Olympic, World and Pan American Games
champion was playing no games in her second bout of the
tournament, firing off her signature right hand, left hook
combination and controlling every second of the bout. Shields
dropped her hands, inviting the Kazakhstani boxer to come
forward and then unloaded shots on Shakimova after backing her
in to the ropes. She mixed in several strong body shots in the
third round of the bout and danced back to her corner after
building up her lead even further. Shields didn't let up in the
fourth, throwing several fast and powerful combinations and
extending her existing lead. For the second straight bout,
Shields closed the show by giving her an opponent a standing
eight count after landing a left hook in the final seconds of
the match. At the end of four rounds, Shields took the victory
by unanimous decision to move on to the women's middleweight
gold medal bout.
"I give it an A-. I did great. I went out there and showed my
skill. I went out there and showed my class. I showed I was the
better, stronger and more skilled fighter. I actually could have
stopped her but I was having so much fun, I was like why do
that. I decided to go out there and have fun in the rest of the
rounds. I was able to start seeing a whole lot of shots come
open in the third round. When she came out there in the fourth
round, she knew she was down so she started to come forward a
little more and I was able to counter and get her from there,"
Shields said. "I know I made it look easy but that's because I
did what I was supposed to do last night. I ate and I drank
POWERADE, a lot of water and I slept. I felt great. I felt
energized. I'm in the finals but that's not enough, we still
have one more."
Shields said she felt much better in her semifinal bout than her
tournament opener on Wednesday.
"I woke up today and my body was feeling great and when I went
in the back and Coach Kay and Coach Billy always ask how I feel
and I said, 'I feel great.' When I went out there, I was
completely relaxed. Me and Coach Kay prayed right before I went
out and he said 'Lord, just let her have fun and let her do what
she's supposed to do and have a great match.' That's what I went
out there and did. In the first round, I was a little bit
technical. When I started seeing the openings, I started landing
and landing. When she started to hold me, I would still punch
her on the inside. I started going under her arms, around her
arms. Anyway it went, I was able to land my shots. I was landing
some pretty hard shots. I think she's pretty brave for being
able to stand up to those shots," she said.
The number one female boxer in the world believes she entered
the Olympic Games with a different mindset than some of her
opponents. "A lot of girls are here just to beat me. I'm here to
win a gold medal so them beating me is winning a gold medal to
them so they go out there and they fight a lot harder than their
other opponents," Shields said.
While she is dominant every time she steps in to the ring, the
Olympic Games is about much more than boxing to Shields. "The
legacy is definitely important. I want to show that women boxers
need to be respected on the amateur level and the professional
level. Also that people that come from where I've come from or
come from an area that's similar, don't let your surroundings
create who you are or what your parents did or didn't do control
who you are. Your life depends on your decisions and it depends
on what you want to do. Growing up in Flint, there was so much
darkness around me, but I still had a few good people around and
that's how I was able to see things and become the person I am.
I just want to show people that when you make your own decisions
for your life, sometimes it plays out the way you want it to. I
just want to help people and I want to help them because what I
grew up with and what I had to overcome was difficult but look
where I am now," she said.
She will take on Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in the
women's middleweight finale at 2 p.m. Brazil time (1 p.m. ET) on
Sunday. "The girl from the Netherlands, she and I just fought a
couple months ago at the World Championships. She's a really
great fighter. She's very tall. I don't think she has the tools
to beat me but I'm quite sure she went home and she worked on a
few things. I worked on a few things also. I'm definitely going
to go out there and give it 300% and hopefully she's going to
give her 300%, let the best woman win," Shields said.
Shields will have Saturday off but is excited to cheer on her
teammate Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) in his gold medal bout
tomorrow. Stevenson will face 2012 Olympic gold medalist Robeisy
Ramirez of Cuba for the bantamweight crown at 2:15 p.m. Brazil
time (1:15 p.m. ET). The bantamweight championship bout marks
the first time an American male boxer has competed in the gold
medal match since Andre Ward won gold in 2004.
The channel and air time for Stevenson's gold medal bout is
currently being determined by NBC.
165 lbs/75 kg: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Dariga
Shakimova, KAZ, 3-0