OLYMPIC gold medallist Claressa Shields began her World title defence at the Barys Arena in Astana on Friday. The US middleweight won gold at the last edition of the AIBA World championships in 2014 and is intent on repeating the feat here in Kazakhstan.

Shields began her preliminary contest with Germany’s Sarah Scheurich with bad intentions. The American went looking for her with big left hooks, a touch wild but when they hit they hurt. She began to crack crunching rights over the top and handed the German a standing count in the first round. Shields hammered Scheurich with more power shots in the second, giving her two further counts. Claressa smothered her own work as she looked to land the finishing blow. She found the stoppage in the fourth and last round as another heavy right set up a left hook that fired into Scheurich’s jaw and the referee had seen enough, waving it off there and then.

“I tried to knock her out, that’s what I wanted to do. But a stoppage is close enough,” Claressa shrugged afterwards.

America had another impressive stoppage victor in Jajaira Gonzalez at 64kgs, who set about Azerbaijan’s Ayzanat Hajiyeva, flinging hard hooks repeatedly round her defences, giving the Azeri count after count and forcing the referee to intervene in the third round.

American featherweight Stalacia Leggett won a split decision against Chinese Taipei’s Hsiao-Wen Huang.