Claressa Shields into final after sumptuous display
It was the Women’s semi-finals during the afternoon session on the twelfth day of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The ExCeL Arena was again packed full with an atmosphere unrivalled.
In the first Flyweight bout (51kg), AIBA World Champion Cancan Ren from China faced the American starlet Marlen Esparza. It was the orthodox 23-year-old USA boxer who looked to take the initiative, using the jab before throwing body shots but the Chinese top seed’s quick counter-punching gave her a slender point advantage coming into the second round. The precise shots of the favourite once again saw her score vital point of the counter with her hand speed making the difference. A big right hand from the Chinese southpaw had Esparza on the back foot, however the diminutive American landed a couple of good hits at the end of the third to reduce her deficit to two points coming into the final round. Ren’s reach advantage gave her the edge as she booked her place into Thursday’s final with a 10:8 victory.
There was a huge cheer for the next two boxers as Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte challenged Great Britain’s AIBA World Championships silver medallist Nicola Adams in the second Flyweight (51kg) semi-final. Five-time AIBA World Pinweight (46kg) Champion Mery Kom tried hard but unfortunately could not cope with the height and poise of the local fighter. The 29-year-old Brit was clever and did not try to bully Kom, instead looking to make her reach count as she outpointed the Indian legend by a point in each of the four rounds to triumph 11:6 and book her place in the final to face Ren.
The loudest noise was reserved for the women’s best pound for pound boxer Katie Taylor as she battled the 19-year-old rising star from Tajikistan Mavzuna Chorieva in the first of the Lightweight (60kg) semi-finals. The Irish legend was moving well, choosing her shots wisely against an opponent who was both tough and undaunted with facing the top seed and overwhelming favourite in the competition. Taylor, who looked in scintillating form in her previous bout, continued where she left off, using that jab before throwing a quality variation of shots to take the first two rounds. The 25-year-old orthodox Irishwoman had too much in her locker for the young Chorieva as she stepped it up another gear in the final two rounds to progress in style 17:9.
Brazil’s Adriana Araujo and the second seed from Russia Sofya Ochigava then went to head-to-head to decide who would face Katie Talyor in the Lightweight (60kg) final. It began evenly with both boxers testing each other with the jab. Araujo tried to take the fight to her opponent but was met by stiff resistance and the points were shared in the first. The Russian southpaw’s quality counter-punching made the difference in the second and third as she connected with some good hooks to take a four point lead going into the final round. Full of confidence, Ochigava was fighting with her gloves down, inviting her rival in before throwing some quick one-twos as the big left made the difference. The Russian ensuring she would challenge Taylor in the gold medal contest after winning 17:11.
In the first of the Middleweight (75kg) semi-finals, American teenage sensation Claressa Shields came up against Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan. It was fast and furious in the first round as the two went toe-to-toe, however it was the 17-year-old orthodox fighter from the USA who was landing the cleaner shots and she took the first round by two points. Shields was really stamping her authority on the bout in the second as a series of hard hooks hit their target and once against she claimed the round. In the third, a series of powerful right hands by the American had Volnova taking a standing eight count as Shields was now completely dominant. In the end, Shields was simply unstoppable as she stormed to a resounding 29:15 victory after an enthralling battle.
In the final bout of the afternoon session, Russian second seed Nadezda Torlpova met Jinzi Li of China in a contest that would see the winner then challenge Shields in the Middleweight (75kg) final. It was the Chinese orthodox 22-year-old who took the first round after the good use of the jab gave a slender point advantage. Torlpova reassessed her tactics and threw some good variation of punches in the second and third rounds to overturn the deficit. A huge left-right combination rocked Li and the Chinese boxer had to take a standing eight count and the 33-year-old two-time European Champion and 2010 World Champion from Russia confidently closed out the final stages to win 12:10.
The evening session will see the Men’s Light Fly (46-49kg), Light Welter (64kg) and Light Heavyweights (81kg) battling it out in the quarter-finals.
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