USA's Shields punches ticket to boxing final

American boxer Claressa Shields earned a spot in the gold medal bout of the women's middleweight tournament with a strong showing Wednesday at the London Games.

Shields recorded a 29-15 victory over Kazakhstan's Marina Volnova in the semifinals and will fight 2011 world champion Nadezda Torlopova of Russia for gold on Thursday.

Shields and Torlopova will both get a shot at becoming one of the first Olympic champions in women's boxing, as this marks the first time the sport has been part of the games' program.

"I cannot believe I am here because this is my dream and tomorrow I am going to fight my heart out," said Shields.

Torlopova, the second seed in the middleweight draw, earned a 12-10 win over China's Li Jinzi to set up the battle with Shields. Volnova and Li both earned bronze medals after their semifinals losses.

Marlen Esparza of the U.S. had to settle for bronze after losing her semifinal bout against Ren Cancan of China. Ren won a 10-8 decision and will fight Great Britain's Nicola Adams for flyweight gold.

India's Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte, a five-time world champion, will also get a bronze after losing her semifinal match against Adams.

In the lightweight competition, Ireland's Katie Taylor and Russia's Sofya Ochigava won their semifinal matches to set up the gold medal bout. The top- seeded Taylor defeated Tajikistan's Mavzuna Chorieva by a 17-9 score, while Ochigava logged a 17-11 decision against Brazil's Adriana Araujo.