Claressa Shields makes history, wins unified world titles in fourth professional fight
In a dominating and emphatic performance, hometown favorite Claressa Shields captured the WBC and IBF Super Middleweight World Championships in just her fourth professional fight Friday night on ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME at MGM Grand Detroit.
The 22-year-old Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) of Flint, Mich. annihilated the previously undefeated Nikki Adler (16-1, 9 KOs) of Germany dominating the fight from start to finish as referee Michael Griffin waved the fight off at 1:34 of Round 5.
“I’m happy and blessed. I got the TKO. I knocked out the world champion who was 16-0,” Shields told SHOWTIME Sports analyst Steve Farhood in the ring after the fight in front of a delirious and loud Detroit crowd. “I had trained for a hard fight and was prepared to go all 10. It was not going to be a war.”
Moments after the historic victory, Farhood said on the telecast: “I don’t remember a fighter winning a world title with a more dominating performance, male or female. Adler was outclassed.”
After accepting her new belts from Adler, Shields met face to face with a possible future opponent in five-time world champion Christina Hammer, who is undefeated at 21-0 and currently holds the WBC and WBO Middleweight titles.
“It was a good fight, but you are not as good as me,” said Hammer, who joined Shields in the ring after the stoppage. “I’ll beat you and Adler, both. Anytime. Anywhere.”
Farhood asked Shields what she showed Hammer. “I think I showed Christina she better keep her hands up,” Shields said. “She saw that I’m fast and I’m stronger than I look. I know she’ll be prepared if we fight next year.”
Adler, who didn’t land any punches in the first, second and fifth rounds, landed just seven percent of her punches (6 of 84) on the night compared to 40 percent for Shields (136 of 340).
“Now that I have faced Claressa Shields, I can tell you Christina Hammer cannot beat her,” Adler said. “She will lose.”
Shields called Friday’s win the best performance of her young career. “I was never nervous and I knew from the start I was not going to go home without those belts,” she said. “I did it!”
Shields said she felt happier winning the world title than she did winning her two Olympics gold medals. “I’m on T.V. and I’m making some money and doing it in front of my fans in Detroit,” she said. “And I was the underdog. At least I always feel like I’m the underdog before any of my fights.”
Shields became the 70th boxer who has appeared on ShoBox to go on to win a world title, joining such illustrious names as Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence Jr., Timothy Bradley, Paulie Malignaggi and Andre Ward.
Adler became the 168th fighter to lose her undefeated record on the ShoBox series.
“I felt tired and weak in the ring,” Adler said. “Claressa was definitely the better fighter tonight. I will be back. Of course, I’m very disappointed about losing a fight, but it’s part of boxing. I was never hurt during the fight, but I had no strength and felt fatigued. I don’t know why. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to.”
In the ShoBox co-feature, Jesse Hernandez (9-1, 7 KOs) of Fort Worth, Texas, overpowered the previously undefeated world-ranked Vladimir Tikhonov (15-1, 9 KOs) of Russia with a fifth-round TKO victory (2:25). Tikhonov became the 167th fighter to lose his undefeated record on the ShoBox series in the eight-round super bantamweight bout.
The 26-year-old Hernandez, the youngest of 15 children, connected on 45 percent of his power punches (121 to 271) against Tikhonov’s 35 percent (85 to 245).
“I could feel my body shots were affecting him,” Hernandez said. “He had no power. Never hurt me. I knew he was never going to be able to withstand my power. He was wearing down. I heard him grunting whenever I threw a body shot.”
The 27-year-old southpaw Tikhonov, who spent the past four weeks training at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit, opened the competitive fight on the outside, with Hernandez more of the aggressor during the first two rounds.
Hernandez landed a big right hand that staggered Tikhonov halfway through the ropes as round three ended. Hernandez dominated the fourth round with some excellent body work, landing shots to Tikhonov’s stomach.
Hernandez began bleeding on the side of his head in the fifth round. But that did not seem to faze him as he continued to batter Tikhonov with body shots and connecting with jabs from both sides with the fight waved off by referee Ansel Stewart at 2:25 of the fifth round.
“His strength was the key,” Tikhonov said. “It was a physical fight and he was the stronger more pressured fighter.”
Added Hernadez: “This is what I worked for, for most my life. This is a dream come true. I knew my style was made for TV. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity and to have made the most of it. I hope to be back on the series.”