Shields, an unknown before the Olympics, capped off a remarkable journey by winning the middleweight gold in outpointing Russian Nadezda Torlopova, 19-12.
Shields became the first U.S. gold medalist in boxing since Andre Ward took the light heavyweight prize in the 2004 Games. The London Games are the first to host women boxing and the first time at an Olympics, the U.S. men’s team failed to win a single medal.
Shields started slowly in the first round, but warmed up with a few late exchanges that helped her find her striking range. The Excel Arena crowd chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” for about 15 seconds midway through the two-minute round, which was scored a 3-3 tie.
In the second round, the pace stayed the same until 48 seconds remained, when the referee stopped the bout to have the Russian’s shoelace retied. When the break ended, Shields charged after her opponent and started landing a series of blows. Shields won the round, 7-4.
In the third round, Shields again started as the aggressor. But both fighters tried to land long punches. In the final minute, Shields nailed Torlopova with a good exchange in a corner. The round ended with more “U-S-A!” chants. Shields won it, 5-3.
That gave her a 15-10 lead heading into the final round.
In that round, Shields held back at the start, for the first time not charging after the Russian. For 30 seconds, neither fighter attempted more than a punch or two. Shields, obviously, knew she was ahead and wasn’t taking chances.
In the final 30 seconds, the Russian tried to press the action and Shields battled her evenly. The round was scored 4-2 for Shields, whose excitement could not be contained. And who could blame her?