Boxing: Claressa Shields Advances to Semis After Debut Fight in Rio

Shields beat Russia's Yaroslava Yakushina 3-0

Top American boxer Claressa Shields has won her first round in the ring at the Rio Olympics. 

Shields beat Russia's Yaroslava Yakushina in the women's middleweight quarterfinals on Wednesday with a 3-0 score. She moves on into the semifinals. She will face the winner of the second match in her division: Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan on Friday. 

Shields unexpectedly dominated the first Olympic women's boxing tournament in London and won the gold medal.

Shields hasn't lost a fight since then, winning two world championships and a Pan-American Games title.

In London, Shields coasted to victory — only Sweden's Anna Laurell came close (18-14) — and won the first U.S. women’s boxing gold. All at the age of 17, making her the youngest Olympic boxing champion since 1924.

Shields, who has a 73-1 career record, says she’s much improved since London. “I'm a way better fighter now; I'm way stronger and smarter and I'm faster.”

If she makes it to the prize fight, she’ll become the first two-time U.S. boxing gold medalist since 1904.

In the men's welterweight (69 kilograms) final bout, Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yeleussinov beat Uzbekistan's Shakhram Giyasov for the gold medal. 

In the women's lightweight (57-60 kg) semifinals, France's Estelle Mossely and China's Yin Junhua won and will box for gold on Friday. Finland's Mira Potkonen, who was outpointed by Yin, won her country's first medal in Rio. She'll face Russia's Anastasiia Beliakova, who got the other bronze after losing to Mossely. 

Earlier Wednesday, the International Boxing Association removed an undisclosed number of referees and judges from the Olympics on  after determining they had not met the organization's standards of competence, The Associated Press reported. 

AIBA declined to provide the judges' names or the fights in which they failed. The results of all bouts will stand, however.

The banished judges apparently didn't include some of the participants in the two most prominent disputed decisions.

Russian heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko's victory over Kazakh power-puncher Vassiliy Levit sparked a wide public outcry over the decision, which rewarded Tishchenko's retreat over Levit's power.  

Judge Armando Carbonell Alvarado of Colombia, who joined his two colleagues in awarding that fight 29-28 to Tishchenko, was on the AIBA's list of judges and referees working Wednesday's fights.

Irish bantamweight world champion Michael Conlan also complained vociferously and profanely after his quarterfinal loss to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin on Tuesday, accusing AIBA and Russia of wholesale corruption. A Sri Lankan judge and a Brazilian judge from that fight were on AIBA's list of working officials Wednesday as well.

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