AMERICAN middleweight Claressa Shields came through the best bout of the Women’s World championships, beating the Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn in the 75kgs final. The Dutch boxer moved well and hit with power, catching Shields cleanly in the second round. But Claressa’s confidence grew throughout the contest. She dropped her hands low, but still threw punches quick enough to catch Nouchka with hurtful shots. She hammered the right down in the last round, rocking Fontijn back and winning by unanimous decision.
Speaking at the Barys Arena in Astana after winning the World gold medal, Shields, the reigning Olympic gold medallist, said, “I had a really good experienced opponent and I was so excited because I wanted to fight her two years ago, in the 2014 Worlds in South Korea but she lost to China and this tournament she showed up, she did her thing and she made it to me in the finals. She was a really good fighter. I have a lot of respect for her. She’s great.
“She’s definitely one of the strongest girls in my weight, besides myself. She could hit. She was strong. She wasn’t stronger than me but she was strong.”
Shields was awarded the prize for boxer of the tournament in Kazakhstan. Claressa is now a two-time World gold medallist. She hopes to mirror that achievement at the next Olympic Games.
“The next step after here is Rio,” she said. “I repeated the Worlds and I want to repeat at Rio, just adding these titles to my resume is great.“
Although in her immediate future, a short break beckons. “I can’t wait to go home and just rest,” she said. “I trained way harder for this than I did for my Olympic qualifier and it definitely showed. So thank God.”
Shields’ team-mate, 81&kgs Shadasia Green put in a battling effort against Kazakhstan’s own Lazzat Kungeibayeva in the heavyweight final but ultimately lost a unanimous decision.