espnW: Claressa Shields

Shields makes not-so-ideal return to ring

September, 10, 2013
Claressa ShieldsAP Photo/Rick OsentoskiClaressa Shields became the first American woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal last year in London.

It may be a step back for Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields, but at least it lands her back in the ring.

Shields, the lone American to win a gold medal in the debut of women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics, will return to international competition later this month at the Women's Junior/Youth World Championships in Albena, Bulgaria.

The 18-year-old, who recently started her freshman year at Olivet College in her home state of Michigan, was forced to drop down to the youth division due to a rule change in the age divisions by AIBA, the international governing body for Olympic-style boxing.

The ruling, she told the Detroit News, was "devastating."

As a 17-year-old, Shields handily beat 33-year-old Nadezda Torlopova of Russia in the Olympic final. Since then, silence. Struggling to find anyone willing to fight her, a year went by between bouts. Shields finally returned to the ring last month in her hometown of Flint and beat Canadian Alison Greey to improve her record to 34-1 (which includes 15 TKOs).

Shields, who has won two Junior Olympic titles, is seeking her first youth championship. She plans to enter the elite age ranks in 2014 and has her eye on defending her middleweight gold at the 2016 Games in Rio.

The Women's Junior/Youth World Championships begin Sept. 22. The finals are scheduled for Sept. 28.

Christy Martin rings in women's boxing

March, 16, 2013
Christy Martin
Jamie Squire /Allsport Christy Martin carried the torch for women's boxing until she was knocked out by Laila Ali.
On March 16, 1996, Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty took to the ring in a Las Vegas boxing match that was considered by many to be the birth of modern professional women’s boxing. The two staged a bloody six-round slugfest and clearly impressed the ringside fans and a worldwide pay-per-view audience, upstaging Mike Tyson’s easy win over Frank Bruno. In 2012 in London, women’s boxing made its debut, and American teenager Claressa Shields won the first middleweight gold medal in women's Olympic boxing history.

A gold mine in Michigan

January, 11, 2013
Jordyn Wieber
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonJordyn Wieber throws out the first pitch at a Tigers game.
Way back on Jan. 11 1805, Congress established the Michigan Territory, providing home soil for several gold medalists at the London Olympics. Tennis star Serena Williams (born in Saginaw), gymnast Jordyn Wieber (born in DeWitt), sprinter Lauryn Williams (raised in Detroit), boxer Claressa Shields (born in Flint), swimmer Allison Schmitt (raised in Canton) and water polo goalie Betsey Armstrong (born in Ann Arbor) all have Michigan ties. Clearly, there's something in the water in the Great Lakes State.

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