(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) - Three days of stress and prayer came to an end for 17-year-old middleweight Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) on Friday with Shields’ preliminary round former foe, England’s Savannah Marshall’s victory in semifinal action. As Shields needed a top two finish in the continent to advance to the Olympic Games, Marshall’s win over Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova in Friday’s action earned the Michigan boxer a middleweight berth in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Team USA enjoyed three more reasons to celebrate on Friday with featherweight Tiara Brown (Lehigh Acres, Fla.), welterweight Raquel Miller (San Francisco, Calif.) and light heavyweight Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) moved on to the championship round with semifinal victories. Bantamweight Christina Cruz (New York, N.Y.) and light welterweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) dropped their semifinal bouts to win bronze medals in the major international event.
Miller was the first U.S. boxer to move on to the final round, recording an impressive 13-10 decision over Russia’s Irina Poteyeva in her first World Championships. The two boxers faced off in a close contest through all four rounds of action with Miller taking a slim 3-2 edge after one. Following a tied first round, Miller added another point to her advantage during the third round of action. She refused to relinquish her lead to Poteyeva in the final stanza, adding another point to her lead in the last two minutes to win a 13-10 final decision. Miller will face Mariia Badulina of Ukraine on Saturday for World Championships gold.
Crews, who boasts much more experience on the international scene than Miller, moved on to the finals with a 22-8 win over Hungary’s Timea Nagy in semifinal action. Nagy was competitive over the first half of the bout with Crews holding a 7-3 lead after the opening two rounds of the bout. Yet Crews blew the bout open in the second; she held a 10-3 lead with one round remaining and let her hands fly in the final two minutes to win a 22-8 decision. Crews’ victory earns her a spot in the championship bout with China’s Yuan Meiqing.
Brown claimed the third spot in Saturday’s finals for her U.S. team with a 22-14 win over Bulgaria’s Svetlana Staneva in her semifinal contest. The American boxer fell behind early in the bout, facing a 6-3 deficit after one. Yet it didn’t take her long to reclaim the lead, Brown outscored Staneva by a 7-3 margin in the second round. She entered the second half of the bout up one point and duplicated her second round efforts in the third to enjoy a 17-12 lead with two minutes of action remaining. Brown continued her strong boxing over the final round to win the 22-14 final decision and advance to the championship bout. She will take on Poland’s Sandra Kruk in the featherweight final on Saturday.
Cruz lost her semifinal bout to Italy’s Terry Gordini, 11-7, in bantamweight action on Friday. After a low scoring first round, Gordini claimed a 6-3 lead at the midway point in the bout. Cruz trailed by a 8-5 margin after the third and lost the 11-7 final decision to take a bronze medal at the 2012 World Championships.
Mayer dropped a one-point heartbreaker to Korea’s Kyong Ok Pak in her light welterweight semifinal bout. The momentum swung throughout the hotly contested bout with Pak taking a one-point lead after one, and Mayer pulling the contest to a 10-10 at the halfway mark. Pak regained control in the third, taking a three-point lead as the final round began. Mayer made a valiant comeback in the fourth round but lost 26-25 to claim a bronze medal at the event.
Shields joins flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) in qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. As all of the boxers from the American continent lost on the same day, the top two finishers were determined by how their opponents placed in the event.
Claressa Shields quotes
On her first thoughts after realizing she was going to London
“The first thing I thought was thank you God, I’m so, so happy. You are there, you are hearing me. They’ve just invited the Olympic gold medalist to the Olympics. I’m thanking God right now, I’m so happy. I prayed, I prayed for her for an hour last night, I prayed for her today, and I prayed for her while she was in the ring. I’m thankful.”
On what she learned from her loss
“I learned that it’s not all about fighting sometimes, I need to learn how to be satisfied with a win. It doesn’t matter how high you score or if you score low, don’t worry about it. I let the score freak me out. I should have stayed thinking, stayed boxing. I learned a lot. I am going to work on a lot of stuff when I get back to training camp, and get back to the gym.”
What have the last few days of waiting been like
“It’s been stressful. I’ve been praying to God. Please give me a chance. Give me a shot. When I lost, it threw me off. At least I get a chance to get a gold medal and have a good learning experience. I lost one but when I get to London, I will not make the same mistake. Now I know all the girls I am looking forward to. I’m going to study them like a book.
119 lbs: Terry Gordini, ITA, dec. Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y./USA, 11-7
125 lbs: Tiara Brown, Lehigh Acres, Fla./USA dec. Svetlana Staneva, BUL, 22-14
141 lbs: Kyong Ok Pak, KOR, dec. Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif./USA, 26-25
152 lbs: Raquel Miller, San Francisco, Calif./USA dec. Irina Poteyeva, RUS, 22-14
178 lbs: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md./USA dec. Timea Nagy, HUN, 22-8