LONDON, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- American Claressa Shields reached the Olympic gold medal bout Wednesday with a semifinal victory in women's middleweight boxing.
Shields gave herself a chance to become the only American boxer, man or woman, to come away from the London Olympics with a championship.
She defeated Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan with a 29-15 decision, setting up a meeting with Nadezda Torlopova of Russia for the gold medal on Thursday. Torlopova was a 12-10 winner over Li Jinzi of China in the other semifinal.
This is the first time women have boxed at the Olympics and they are taking part in three weight classes.
The only other American to have survived to this point in the boxing tournament, flyweight Marlen Esparza, lost 10-8 in the semifinals Wednesday to top-seeded Ren Cancan of China. Esparaza, like all other losers of semifinal bouts will receive a bronze medal.
In the other flyweight semifinal Nicola Adams of Britain won an 11-6 decision over Chungnejang Mery Kom Hmangte of India.
Ireland's Kate Taylor moved into the finals of the lightweight class by downing Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan 17-9. Taylor's opponent in the gold medal bout will be Sofya Ochigava of Russia, who was a 17-11 winner over Adriana Araujo of Brazil.
All the American men boxers were eliminated from the competition prior to the semifinals.
The last of the men's classifications completed their quarterfinal bouts Wednesday and two Cubans made it to the semifinals.
Julio la Croz Peraza reached the semis with an 18-15 victory in the light-heavyweight division over Uktamjon Rahmonov of Uzbekistan. Peraza will meet Russian Egor Mekhonteev in the next round.
Cuba's Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo also moved on in the light-welterweight class by defeating Uktamjon Rahmonov of Uzbekistan 21-15. Italian Vincenzo Mangiacapre will meet the Cuban in the semifinals with the other bout in that division sending Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg of Mongolia against Denys Berinchyk of Ukraine.
In the light-flyweight division, Ireland's Paddy Barnes advanced to the semis with a 15-10 decision over Devendro Singh Laishram of India. Barnes will face Zou Shiming of China in the semifinals while David Ayrapetyan of Russia will tackle Kaeo Pongprayoon of Thailand.
The men's tournament will take Thursday off before semifinals are held in all the weight classes Friday. Championship bouts will take place Saturday and Sunday.
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