Claressa Shields won the women's middleweight division today, bringing home the first gold in USA women's boxing history, at the first Games where women's boxing was granted a spot. Shields beat Sweden's Anna Laurell in the quarterfinals, Kazakhstan's Marina Volnova in the semifinals, and Russia's Nadezda Torlopova for the gold. In the clip above, you can see some of Shields's better moments (including a savage left-handed jab at the end) against the beleaguered Russian. At 33, Torlopova is nearly double Shields's age. It wasn't really close—Shields was up five after three rounds, and ended up putting the fight away 19-12 on points. The nearest the fighter from Flint came to a loss in London was a minor scare against Laurell, whom she beat 18-14.
One of the stranger things about sorting through the noise surrounding the female boxing team in advance of the Olympics is that every profile of the fighters in the US delegation—Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood, and Shields—either said outright or quoted someone saying that its subject was the USA's best chance at gold (check out the "scouting reports from home country" in the field guide.) Underwood had a tough draw (she ended up losing in the quarterfinals), and Esparza came away with a bronze, but it was the 17-year-old Shields that looked dominant. Considering her opponents were 23, 32, and 33, Shields should have a chance to collect a lot of hardware throughout her career. That is, if the US boxing ecosystem proves itself able to support female boxers between quadrennials.