LONDON - Feeling disrespected by her Kazakh opponent, American boxer Claressa Shields unleashed a barrage of blows to win an Olympic slug fest on Wednesday which only fuelled the comparisons to the sport's film legend Rocky Balboa.
The 17-year-old fighter from Flint, Michigan, tagged as one of the dangerous cities in America by the FBI, romped to a 29-15 success in her women's middleweight semi-final against Kazakh Marina Volnova to set up a gold medal bout on Thursday .
Having edged a flying opening round 7-5, the last American boxer standing took umbrage at Volnova's reaction and rained down furious rights and lefts at a bristling pace to wow the crowd at the lively ExCel arena.
It was much more enjoyable that her original conservative plan.
"The game plan was initially just to go to the right and jab and box but she didn't respect me when I did that so I turned it into a fun game and started banging with her and I got the best of it," Shield told reporters.
"I was able to pick my shots, make her miss a lot and it was fun. I was able to put my combinations together, land my hard clean shots, punch straight, I was able to do a lot of things people don't see women doing.
"I think I got the best of every round. I did pretty good first round, she was trading in the first, I'm like 'I'm supposed to be hitting her she ain't supposed to be hitting me'."
Shields' rise from Flint, which had the second highest murder rate in America last year, to an Olympic final draws comparisons to the scripts of the Rocky films of the 1970s.
In the box office success which led to several sequels, the lead character scraps his way out of poverty with an exciting blow-for-blow style to fight for the heavyweight championship. Shields is a fan.
"I'm a lot more sharper than what I was, I swing wide and I fight like Rocky Balboa. I watched all the Rocky films, when he fought the Russian that was my favourite," she added, before later changing her mind.
Interestingly, her opponent in Thursday's final is Russia second seed Nadezda Torlopova, who at 33 is almost double her age.
"It's wonderful. I feel kind of shocked. I'm thinking in my head 'is it really true, am I going to fight for gold tomorrow,' and yeah, I'm not dreaming any more it is real and I believe I can beat anybody so I have just got to grab it."
While the Rocky comparisons are inevitable, Shields prefers links to former welterweight and middleweight world champion Sugar Ray Robinson, one of the all time greats of the sport who died before Shields was born.
With the pressure of being the last American fighter left at the London Games, Shields turns to Robinson for peace.
"I like to call myself Baby Robinson, after Sugar Ray Robinson, I feel like I fight like him.
"Robinson is someone I have been looking up to forever. Whenever I am stressed out, I watch his tapes, I watched him against Jake LaMotta last night."
With women's boxing making its Olympic bow in London, Shields' exciting style has surely helped to cement the sport as a staple of future Olympics and at 17 she could easily fight in another three Games.
But money is on her mind.
"2016 sounds pretty good right now but I don't know yet. I have a family to feed. I have a little brother, little sister, mom, dad, my brother in prison and I want to try and look out for them. I'm going to see how everything goes and get this gold medal and go from there."
Tags: Amateur Boxing