Claressa Shields faced by far the biggest test of her incredible boxing career on Saturday. She set out to meet her biggest rival in front of 20,000 fans cheering her on with all their might Savannah Marshall to not only win, but to beat them cold.
And Shields responded by boxing brilliantly and becoming the undisputed champion in a third weight division. She won a unanimous decision against Marshall with a brilliant display of boxing, heart and stamina on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
Judges Luigi Boscarelli and Frank Lombardi had it 97-93 for Shields, while Steve Gray saw it 96-94 for Shields. Yahoo Sports scored 97-93 for Shields.
After becoming the undisputed champion at both the super middleweight and super welterweight divisions, Shields captured Marshall’s WBO middleweight title, becoming the undisputed middleweight champion. No boxer, male or female, has ever done that.
“She’s a brilliant fighter and she’s earned the title of ‘greatest woman of all time,'” Marshall said afterwards in the ring.
She did. Marshall is perhaps the hardest hitting woman on the planet, and not only did she show good strength, but she also had plenty of fight IQ and pushed the pace. The fight was fought at a frenetic pace because Shields was able to keep up.
Shields landed 174 of 471 shots over the 10 rounds, many of which were clean, hard power shots. Marshall hit 132 of 391 shots, many of them very hard.
Marshall repeatedly pushed Shields to the ropes, but Shields appeared content to fight there and was able to fight her way free by pacing, forcing Marshall to back off.
Shields praised Marshall’s performance and talent and scoffed at the idea that Marshall might resign because she lost. Marshall had talked about this before the fight.
But she said she simply refused to be bullied, went out and gave Marshall a dose of her own medicine.
“I was digging down every lap,” Shields said. “Every round she hit me with big shots and I hit her back with a big shot. When she hit me in the body, I hit her in the body. There were times I was against the ropes and I was landing my shots, and there were times she was going against the ropes and [landed hers]. But I worked the most today and landed the combinations.”
It was a difficult environment to go into. The pro-Marshall crowd booed the American national anthem before the fight and hollered whenever Marshall did anything.
Those are the things that could sway the judges, but Shields was so consistent and worked so hard that the judges couldn’t be swayed by the noise of the crowd.
It’s not fair or reasonable to call someone the greatest of all time before the end of their career, but after just 13 pro fights, Shields has a great lead to making her bold predictions a reality.