Claressa Shields Enters the Pro Ranks With a Bang in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS-Fresh from her Olympic heroics Claressa Shields walked into the vast arena not knowing what to expect in her first pro fight. But after the initial explosion of punches all was back to normal.
The entire crowd of 13,000 at the T-Mobile Arena was not in the building yet but those that arrived early were anxious to see this young female phenom Shields (1-0) who was the scourge of two Olympiads. Roughly about 3,000 people were in the building.
Unsure how to judge this meeting of two female fighters fighting professionally for their first time, fans took a wait and see attitude. They were not at all disappointed.
Shields exploded immediately with a right cross and left hook immediately at the sound of the first bell. Crews was hit but fired back immediately as if she had been through this before. Both fought each other before but this time with no head gear and smaller gloves.
Would there be a major difference?
“It was really different getting hit with the head gear off,” said Shields, 21. “But I proved a lot to myself and everyone else.”
From the opening bell Shields seemed pre-determined to beat Crews to the punch on every exchange. For the first two rounds the Olympian was able to do exactly that. But Crews has an extensive amateur pedigree and was able to change her attack to take advantage of Shields tactics.
Still, Shields was able to land the left hook continually though the right cross was temporarily nullified.
Crews had absorbed some terrific punches but continued to advance. For those unaware of her skills they got to see them first hand. Any other female middleweight might not have been able to survive those blows.
After four quick and impactful rounds, all three judges scored it 40-36 for Shields. The crowd cheered their effort even before the score cards were announced.
“It’s not what I wanted but to be called on, last minute, for a fight of this magnitude… I am proud of myself. We will fight again in the future,” said Crews, 29, who won 10 US National titles as an amateur.
Shields was thankful for the test.
“This is what I’ve been training for. I’m faster and I hit harder. And I’m the better fighter,” said Shields after the fight. “But Crews brought 100% and I respect her for that.”
Women’s boxing just jumped another level with Shields out-bombing former amateur foe Crews to win by unanimous decision after four explosive rounds on Saturday.
“The gloves are smaller and even though I have never KO’d anyone, I know for a fact that I can,” said Shields. “I came so close.”
Both Shields and Crews are anxious to continue their pro careers immediately.
“I felt great my first fight,” said Shields adding that she wants to fight in January or February at the latest.
(Photo by Al Applerose)