DETROIT – Two words sum up two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields’ historic night as the main event on ShoBox: The New Generation’s “Detroit City Gold” event at MGM Grand Detroit: Mission Accomplished.
Shields (2-0, 1 KOs) bludgeoned a determined Szilvia Szabados (15-9, 6 KOs) with a mix of sizzling straight right hands and thudding left hooks for four feverish rounds before referee Harvey Dock abruptly stepped between the two to halt the action, citing the amount of punishment the Hungarian withstood.
The stoppage – Shields’ first in just her second professional bout – crowned the Flint, Michigan native with the vacant NABF middleweight title. The MGM Grand Detroit’s ball room loudly reverberated with cheers and various chants for the better part of ten minutes as Shields donned her new belt, and then visited each side of the ring to show her appreciation for the widespread support from the fans. Shields’ victory and the action from the other three fights featured in the quadruple-header made the Salita Promotions event a success.
Szabados’ focus was impervious to the hostile pro-Shields crowd’s constant chants of “Whoop That Trick” – the signature song from the 2005 movie Hustle & Flow – but her defense didn’t fare as well with the straight right hand from Shields. Shields blitzed the veteran with straight rights almost exclusively en route to connecting with 28 power punches, per PunchStat, over the fight’s first two minutes.
Shields averaged 20 landed power punches over the next two rounds, and up to the point the fight was stopped. In contrast, Szabados struggled to seize any opportunities for her own offense, as she spent most of her time under duress from Shields raining shots.
Shields connected with over 50% of her power punches for all four rounds, nearly doubling Szabados in punches thrown, including a 88 to 10 advantage in non-jabs landed. The punishment was mounting so Dock was probably justified in waving the fight off despite the fact Szabados appeared to be lucid as she complained about the stoppage – she had words with Dock even after the official result was announced. However, Szabados wasn’t returning punches in the same manner as Franchon Crews during her November slugfest with Shields in the pair’s debut fight.
After receiving her new belt and celebrating her huge win Shields told SHOWTIME Boxing’s Steve Farhood, “It was about respect. I wanted to go out there and show I had power and wasn’t scared of her. I knew she was tough coming in. That’s why I started going to the body. I was to get the clean shot in one round and she was going to go, but the ref stopped it in the fourth. A knock out is a knockout. It was exciting.
“I’m glad everyone came. I took advantage of the this great opportunity once again.”
Szabados should be commended for weathering the early storm from Shields, but surviving didn’t ease her disappointment in not being allowed to continue. After the fight she said, “I’m very sad and heartbroken right now because I only went four rounds and I could have kept going.
“Her hits were not painful. Her right hook got me a lot, I know. I could feel that one.
“I cannot accept the referee decision. But I have to live with it.
After the fight Shields bodly reiterated that she’s best women’s boxing has to offer, and the fight’s outcome against a more experienced fighter bodes well for the former Olympian’s future in the sport. Now, fans must wait to see if the business of boxing delivers the elite challenges in the same fashion as what is often experienced on the men’s side. Or, can business step aside so Shields’ greatness can truly be validated?