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Olympic Champ Claressa Shields Goes Undefeated For Team USA’s First Women’s Boxing Pan Ams Gold

By Mike Gardner | July 25, 2015, 9:14 a.m. (ET)

Claressa Shields (red) boxes Dominican Yanebier Guillen Benitez in a unanimous decision for the gold medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in the 64 kg class on July 24, 2015 in Oshawa, Ontario.

OSHAWA, Ontario -- If U.S. men’s heavyweight boxer Cam F. Awesome is the self-proclaimed “Taylor Swift of boxing”, then according to 2012 Olympic gold medalist middleweight Claressa Shields, she is the Beyoncé of her sport because she’s the most well-known woman in boxing.

Shields backed that statement up and added yet another gold medal to her already impressive resume by winning in her Pan American Games debut, defeating Yenebier Guillen Benitez of the Dominican Republic, 3-0, by unanimous decision – the same way she won every fight in the tournament.

“I always felt like the underdog, but now I’m top dog now,” Shields said on entering the tournament as a reigning Olympic champion. “When you’re good and you’re great, people want to fight you. It’s just about if I let them (beat me) or not, which I’m not.”

Shields opened up her title bout Friday night at the Oshawa Sports Center with the same tenacity and aggression that has earned her a current 61-1 overall record. Using the famous “rope-a-dope” style of allowing her opponents to tire out, she was able to overpower the competition en-route to a gold medal.

“I need to get faster, smarter, stronger of course,” the 2014 world champion said. “Really just the whole mental thing – in boxing it’s like 80-percent mental and 20-percent physical. The physical part I have down pat, just making sure I keep my mental and I did a pretty good job keeping it here.”

Shield’s gold medal at the Pan Am Games marked the first medal of any color for Team USA in women’s boxing, which was added to the program in 2011. Shields also owns Team USA’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s boxing, which debuted in 2012.

From someone who knows what success is measured in, Shields enjoyed every moment of her first Pan American Games experience.

“It was fun – it’s just like a mini Olympics,” Shields said. “When I was standing on the podium, everyone kept telling me how big the medal was, it really is big! I’m trying to measure, but I don't know what's bigger, my Olympic gold medal or this one.”

Now she prepares for the year-long training to defend her title in Rio de Janeiro and just like any great boxer, according to Shields, she is always striving to be great and practice to reach the top of the podium, again.

“I always work on throwing more combinations; I could actually throw a lot more,” Shields said on improving for next summer’s Olympics. “I’m working on punching through a whole round, two minutes non-stop punching; just straight aggression and not get hit. If I get it down pat, you guys are in for a nice surprise.”

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Claressa Shields