Claressa Shields, the one American boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, had confronted just about no adversity by means of her good novice profession or in her first 5 skilled fights — till Friday evening.
That is when Shields, the unified girls’s tremendous middleweight world titleholder, dropped down in weight to problem unified junior middleweight titleholder Hanna Gabriels, who moved up in weight, for 2 vacant middleweight belts and located herself on her rear finish within the first spherical.
Gabriels landed a clear proper uppercut to stun and drop Shields, however she shook it off, acquired up and dominated the remainder of the fast-paced-action battle to win a unanimous resolution and declare two titles in a second weight division on the Masonic Temple in Detroit, not removed from Shields’ hometown of Flint, Michigan.
The judges scored the battle 98-91, 97-92 and 97-92 for Shields, who arrange a fall showdown for the undisputed girls’s middleweight world championship with fellow two-belt titleholder Christina Hammer. Hammer routed Tori Nelson to retain her belts within the co-feature.
Shields and Hammer practically got here to blows within the ring after the principle occasion throughout a rowdy confrontation during which Showtime announcer Steve Farhood practically acquired nailed with a punch.
“I’m just tired of Hammer disrespecting me all the time,” Shields mentioned. “She comes into the ring after all my fights, talks trash, and then she goes in there and looks like s— against Nelson. I’m sick of it. But I let her know I’m more than ready for a fight against her. She wanted me to lose tonight, but I wanted her to win because I want to fight her. We have to unify now.”
With Detroit boxing legend Thomas Hearns watching from ringside, Shields and Gabriels opened the battle at a torrid tempo. Throughout a fierce change within the first spherical, Gabriels, who’s married to junior light-weight contender and her coach, Bryan Vasquez, linked with a proper uppercut that knocked Shields’ mouthpiece out and despatched her to the mat, skidding on her rear finish.
Shields was surprised however didn’t seem too harm and simply beat the depend. Then she took over the battle, her first underneath the steering of famous coach John David Jackson.
“She’s strong. She caught me with a shot in the first round,” Shields mentioned. “I used to be considering, ‘Be good, use you jab, transfer your head and tire her out.’
“Within the sixth spherical she began getting drained. I fought her some extra. She had some coronary heart and she or he fought her ass off and she or he confirmed that she’s a champion. I am the best lady of all time. I can get placed on my ass, get again up, battle 10 rounds and win. I received each spherical after the knockdown. I did what I used to be presupposed to do. I am actually harmful as a result of I confirmed that I may be knocked down and stand up and nonetheless win.”
Gabriels (18-2-1, 11 KOs), 35, of Costa Rica, mentioned the knockdown shocked her.
“I did not anticipate to knock her down,” Gabriels said. “And to be trustworthy, I do not suppose I am that highly effective. I used to be looking for my velocity, however it was tough as a result of she was actually sturdy. I left my coronary heart within the ring. I feel fought like a champion. I educated to go the gap however my coronary heart betrayed me, as a result of after that first knockdown, I used to be on the lookout for one other one. I wished to indicate everybody I had a warrior’s coronary heart. I did not really feel I had a bonus after the knockdown. I felt I needed to work spherical after spherical to also have a risk to win.
“I don’t think I lost by so many points. I don’t think the margin was that wide. But I respect the opinion of the judges. They gave her the win. That’s fine with me. I’m still the 154 champion.”
The 23-year-old Shields (6-Zero, 2 KOs), the faster, greater fighter, landed loads of clear photographs and regularly fired combos. By the fourth spherical, Gabriels, who was preventing in america for the primary time, started to decelerate. Within the sixth spherical, Shields rocked her with a pair of proper palms throughout an change late within the spherical. Shields continued to win the exchanges however acquired a stern take a look at from Gabriels, a former welterweight world titlist, in her hardest battle but. In line with CompuBox statistics, Shields landed 162 of 506 punches (32 p.c) and Gabriels landed 133 of 510 (26 p.c).
Germany’s Hammer, making her U.S. debut and her 12th title protection, rolled previous Nelson by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91. In January, Shields received a shutout — 100-90 on all three scorecards — in opposition to Nelson to retain her tremendous middleweight belts.
Hammer (23-Zero, 10 KOs), 27, dominated the shorter, slower Nelson (17-2-Three, 2 KOs) with a superior left jab whereas mixing in a heavy dose of proper palms.
Nelson, 41, of Ashburn, Virginia, may by no means get inside and landed nothing of consequence the whole battle.
“I’m very disappointed in my performance tonight,” Nelson mentioned.
Hammer landed 103 of 466 punches (23 p.c), and Nelson linked with solely 56 of 318 (18 p.c). Hammer fought properly however was upset she did not get the knockout. Nonetheless, she is wanting ahead to dealing with Shields for the undisputed title.
“It would have been better to get a KO,” Hammer mentioned. “I attempted every little thing I may to get the knockout. She was robust. I hope the USA is sweet with this and I am nonetheless the champ.
“I am actually wanting ahead to preventing Claressa. She is going to attempt to battle me on the within, however my footwork, and my attain, would be the distinction. The battle with Claressa might be a game-changer. It is going to be the most important girls’s battle ever.”
Within the opening bout of the Showtime-televised tripleheader, mild heavyweight Umar Salamov (22-1, 16 KOs), 24, of Russia, knocked out Brian Howard (13-2, 10 KOs), 38, of Atlanta, within the ninth spherical. Salamov was forward on all three scorecards of what had been a dreadful battle when he dropped Howard for the depend with two proper palms at 53 seconds.