Reigning Olympic champion Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) is familiar with history making performances and she put on another one in her second gold medal bout on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Shields became the first U.S. boxer ever to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals with her third unanimous decision victory of the Olympic Games in the women’s middleweight final with the Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn. Shields was so dominant in her second Olympic run that she received the women’s Val Barker trophy given to the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament.
For the second straight Olympic Games, Shields was the final American boxer to compete and once again, she put an exclamation point on her Olympic run in the gold medal bout. After settling in for the first minute of the contest, she began opening up in the second half of the round. Shields closed out the round strongly to take the first round on the scorecards. Shields truly began to shine in the second round, landing powerful shots to Fontijn’s body and head and bringing her legion of supporters to their feet. Shields jogged back to her corner after the second round with a two-point lead at the midway point of the contest. She turned it up even further in the third round, peppering Fontijn with combinations and closing the round with a thunderous right hand in the final 20 seconds. She had the bout secured after winning the opening three rounds but she didn’t let up over the final two minutes. Shields closed the show in the fourth, opening the round with her hands down and begging Fontijn to come forward. She ended the bout with a powerful left hook on her way to another 3-0 victory and her second Olympic gold medal.
“I won! I listened to the game plan. I had fun the last round and I landed a lot of big shots. I’m a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Oh my God, I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t even feel like I’m up right now. This is crazy,” Shields said in disbelief. “I worked so hard to get here. Not anybody can be an Olympic gold medalist period but to be able to say I’m a two-time Olympic gold medalist. I can’t even believe I just said that. I don’t even remember getting hit throughout the fight. I just wanted to win the first three rounds clear and every time I came back to the corner, they said you got that round. They said you got that round three times so that meant I won the fight. The only thing was last round, go in there, be smart, land your shots and finish and I did it.”
Shields celebrated the announcement with a cartwheel in the ring before running around the arena with the American flag. Minutes later as she did her post bout interviews, Shields couldn’t believe that she was actually a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“I’m just so happy and I prayed before I came here and I just knew God was with me. I always have God in my corner every fight and he gives me strength every practice. I put my body through so much hard work. I just can’t believe it,” she said.
Her victory on Sunday moves her record to 77-1 and adds a second Olympic gold medal to a resume that already includes two world titles and a Pan American Games championship. While she doesn’t know exactly what her future awaits, a trip home to Flint is certainly in her plans. I’m just ready to have a break. I’m ready to go home and see my mom. I haven’t seen my mom in three or four months. I want to see my sister and my little brother and I guess I’ll be back in training in a month or two. I don’t really know what I’m going to do. I haven’t let myself see past this day. I can’t believe I just did this,” Shields said.
After receiving her second Olympic gold medal from AIBA President C.K. Wu, Shields reached in to her pocket and pulled out her London hardware to go along with her new medal.
“I brought the 2012 medal because you only get to win one gold medal in Olympic boxing and people didn’t really give me my recognition for doing it one time so I was like you know what when I get on the podium, I’m going to put on both so people can always remember that I’m the first American boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals,” she said. “I know I’m the first woman to get on the podium and put on two gold medals.”
Shields dad Clarence was able to make the trip out to Rio to support his baby in her second Olympic run and she enjoyed having the support ringside. “Having my dad out there was great. He and his wife have both been here every fight and my dad’s been talking to me. He texts me, he calls me and he checks on me. Last night, he told me to cheer up because I was so down about Shakur. He said even through you love Shakur, you still have to focus on you,” she said.
She left the arena just in time to run off to the Closing Ceremony where she will walk alongside the rest of her teammates from the United States with her two gold medals hanging proudly on her neck.
Shields and the rest of the Olympic boxing team will return to the United States tomorrow.
165 lbs/75 kg: Claressa Shields, Flint, Mich./USA dec. Nouchka Fontijn, NED, 3-0