SAN DIEGO, August 8, 2012 – America’s gold medal hope in boxing has the relentless attack of Mike Tyson, the punching power of George Foreman, and the brash charm of Muhammad Ali, but considers Sugar Ray Robinson her inspiration.
Yes, her. Middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan put on a show of tremendous force, crushing Marina Volnova of Kazahkstan, 29-15, for the right to face Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova, who won a close bout over China’s Li Jinzi, 12-10. Shields forced Volnova to take standing eight-counts in each of the last two rounds after she was rocked by vicious combinations. In a professional fight, it would have been over a lot sooner.
“I was able to put my combinations together, land a lot of clean shots, punch straight… I did what I wanted to do with her,” said Shields.
Shields is only 17 years old with two years of amateur experience, but fights with speed, power, and the kind of fierce attitude you cannot teach. What some might see as cocky, others see as the youthful exuberance of a teenager. It is hard to believe Shields is such a youngster.
After the bout, Shields said, “I’m thinking in my head, ‘Is it really true? Am I fighting for a gold medal tomorrow?’”
Yes, she is, and she will have a huge group of family, friends, and fans cheering her on from home in Flint, Michigan. Shields will also have the London crowds behind her, who love her attitude and style. Along with Shields, they’ll be rooting for flyweight Nicola Adams of Great Britain, who defeated odds-on favorite Mary Kom of India, 11-6; and lightweight Irish superstar world champion Katie Taylor, who defeated Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan, 17-9.
Adams will face world champion Ren Cancan of China, who defeated American Marlen Esparza in a close bout, 10-9. Esparza wins a bronze medal, but it was less than she hoped and she took the loss hard.
Esparza worked hard to force the defensive Cancan into actually fighting, but Cancan is experienced enough to throw just enough accurate counterpunches to score points and win. Several times the referee had to admonish Cancan and Esparza to engage.
Esparza, the first-generation daughter of Mexican parents who was an honors graduate from her Houston high school, put off going to college for the opportunity to box in the Olympics. At age 23, she says her boxing career is over and she will now attend Rice University as a pre-med student, with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. Gold medal or not, Esparza is a role model for young women everywhere. This country should ensure Esparza knows how proud her fellow Americans are of her.
Taylor will face Russian Sofya Ochigava, who defeated Brazil’s Adriana Araujo, 17-11. Ochigava had plenty to say about her gold medal round opponant, claiming she was already at a disadvantage because of the raucous fans supporting Taylor.
All ten USA men’s boxing team members were shut out of the medal rounds. It will mark the first time in a modern Olympic Games that the most successful country in Olympic men’s boxing history has gone home without a medal. Meanwhile the three USA women’s boxers are two for three.
The gold medal bouts for the women are scheduled starting at 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, August 9, with Claressa Shields boxing for gold at approximately 6:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The bouts will be aired on CNBC starting at 6 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday.
Maybe now since beach volleyball competition will be over, NBC might be able to spare 15 minutes and air Shields’ gold medal match in prime time.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.