The first women ever to box at the Olympic Games did themselves and their sport proud. Not just Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields, who will take home gold medals with their victories Thursday, but all 36 women who took part. These women proved, on the biggest stage of all, that women belong in the ring, long considered a man’s domain. And they managed to entertain along the way.
Flyweight – 51lg/112.4lb
Ren Cancan vs. Nicola Adams: Going in, this bout seemed like the hardest to pick of the three women’s finals. China’s Cancan owned three victories over Britain’s Adams, who had seemed to grow before our eyes as the tournament progressed. When the opening bell rang this time, things went very differently. Adams used her ridiculously long arms to control all the action, working Cancan over with combinations and dropping her with a shot to the point of her chin in the 2nd round. Adams didn’t lose a round and earned host nation Great Britain the honour of winning the first ever women’s boxing gold medal, by a wide margin of 16-7.
Lightweight – 60kg/132.2lb
Katie Taylor vs. Sofya Ochigava: Irish flag-bearer (both literally and figuratively) Katie Taylor received an almost comically enthusiastic welcome from the crowd at London’s Excel Arena. After an even first round, Taylor found herself down on the cards in the 2nd, 4-3. Her Russian opponent boxed in an intelligent, if not entertaining, manner, tying up Taylor whenever possible to stop her unleashing her swift combinations. Up 7-5 at the end of the 3rd, Taylor hung on to her two point league to win the gold medal with a score of 10-8. The crowd exploded as Taylor danced an Irish jig in the ring. (Photo of Katie Taylor via the London 2012 Olympics website)
Middleweight – 75kg/165.3lb
Claressa Shields vs. Nadezda Torlopova: Flint, Michigan’s Claressa Shields made Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova look plodding and ungraceful from the opening round. But it took the 17-year-old until the 2nd to hurt Torlopova, raking the Russian with both hands and taking the lead 10-7 at the end of the round. Torlopova, just one year off the International Amateur Boxing Association’s mandated retirement date for female boxers, tried to close things down and maul but Shields had other ideas, creating distance when necessary with deft footwork. The American had nothing to prove but went out in the final round with a chip on her shoulder, putting a serious hurting on Torlopova, who was lucky not to receive a standing eight count. What a performance. With her 19-12 victory, Shields becomes America’s first boxing gold medalist since Andre Ward in 2004.