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Claressa Shields sails past semifinal opponent to reach final on Sunday

19
Aug
Photo courtesy of AIBA

Photo courtesy of AIBA

USA Boxing’s Claressa Shields kicked up her feet and trotted around the ring. She had just landed several clean shots against her semifinal opponent, Kazakhstan’s Dariga Shakimova and was taking a well-earned breather.

Shields entire bout on Friday in Rio could have been termed a breather. The 21-year-old from Flint, Michigan, dominated Shakimova, again doling out a standing-eight count in the fourth round and coasting to a unanimous decision win to earn a date in the finals on Sunday. Shields will go for her second straight gold medal at middleweight after winning in London four years ago.

To repeat that achievement, Shields will have to go through Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands, who won a split decision against China’s Qian Li. Shields will be a heavy favorite in the championship after she again made it look easy as she has the entire tournament — she was too strong and aggressive and skilled for Shakimova, repeatedly drilling her with shots and then calmly dancing away as if to admire her work.

Shakimova was determined and she rarely took a step back, but she was simply out-gunned by a superior opponent. At times the bout looked like a bad sparring session with Shields clearly in charge. Somehow, one of the judges gave Shakimova the third round, a reminder of the shaky judging that has plagued boxing in these Olympic Games.

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