Claressa Shields unifies middleweight titles, then calls out Savannah Marshall
What ended up being pitched in the broad strokes of boxing promotion as being the most essential women’s fight in a generation was, more immediately, the biggest test of Claressa Shields’ nascent professional career. Works out it wasn’t a great deal of challenge in the least.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist within the United States is now a four-belt world champion after overwhelming Christina Hammer and winning a 10-round unanimous decision by using a comprehensive exhibition of hand speed, effective aggression and much-improved defense in Saturday night’s highly anticipated middleweight title unification fight inside the Adrian Phillips Theater at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Ringside judges Guido Cavalleri and Robin Taylor handed down scores of 98-91 while Lynne Carter had it 98-92. (The Guardian scored it 99-91.)
Claressa Shields outpoints Christina Hammer to win undisputed middleweight championship – mainly because it happened
Shields, who had already won a belt at super middleweight in her own fourth professional struggle to save her London and Rio golds, added Hammer’s long-held WBO title into the IBF, WBA and WBC straps that she’s collected since dropping as a result of 160lbs one year ago, becoming precisely the second champion inside status for the women’s section to simultaneously hold all major title belts in different division after Norway’s Cecilia Br?khus, the welterweight queen deemed the most beneficial fighter pound for pound today. So rare is a feat nowadays in this decentralized climate that four males have managed it: the reigning cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, junior welterweight Terence Crawford and middleweights Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor.
Afterward the cocksure 24-year-old from Flint, Michigan – undefeated in nine paying fights plus a winner in 77 of her 78 amateur bouts – animatedly called out both Br?khus and Savannah Marshall, the unbeaten British super middleweight whose defeat of Shields for the 2012 world championships represents the lone blemish on her lifetime ledger.
“I’ll drive to the UK and beat Savannah Marshall,” Shields said afterward. “Bring me her. Bring her for me. I’ll kill her.”
Claressa Shields: from Flint to Olympic gold – in pictures
Hammer (24-1, 11 KOs), a German