HOMETOWN FAVORITE CLARESSA SHIELDS WINS WBC & IBF SUPER MIDDLEWIEGHT WORLD TITLES IN FOURTH PRO FIGHT IN MAIN EVENT OF SHOBOX: THE NEW GENERATION FRIDAY ON SHOWTIME®
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DETROIT (Aug. 5, 2017) – Claressa Shields must have known she was going to have to carry the fight Friday night – in her anticipated world title bout with reigning champion Nikki Adler – and by adding rapper Lyric Da Queen’s presence to her short ring walk was a ploy to add some extra excitement to the bout. Unfortunately, defending WBC world champion Adler didn’t have the same concerns regarding entertaining the fans at MGM Grand Detroit, nor those at home watching the fight live on SHOWTIME.
The 22-year-old Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) of Flint, Mich. briefly displayed some respect for the previously undefeated Adler (16-1, 9 KOs) in the opening moments of the fight, but quickly surmised that Adler was not much more of an offensive threat than, Szilvia Szabados, her opponent from her first headlining appearance on ShoBox: The New Generation back in March.
Adler stood in front of Shields with very little movement – head, feet, or even hands – for all five rounds, and after one of Shields’ first few combinations the champion’s reddened face indicated the level of the Flint native’s power. Each of the two-minute rounds were swept by Shields with her crisp combinations paired with some beautiful work with her left hand, and after the fourth round referee Michael Griffin checked in with the Adler corner to see whether the action needed to continue. The fight resumed at the bell, but after watching Adler struggle to protect herself from the free-swinging Shields, Griffin was forced to step in between the two ladies at 1:34 to wave off the fight.
Griffin’s merciful stoppage confirmed the conclusion most reached back at the end of round one when Shields’ puzzled facial expression during her exchange with her corner clearly indicated any remaining rounds would undoubtedly be easy work. As round two started, the only mystery that remained was exactly how Shields would become the new super middleweight unified champion – knockout or technical knockout.
“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.”
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 current pound-for-pound king 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.”
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