Claressa Shields Hammers Szilvia Szabados to win NABF Title
A hometown crowd and television viewers around the country saw Claressa “T-Rex” Shields capture the vacant NABF middleweight title with a stoppage win over Hungary’s shock absorbing Szilvia Szabados on Friday.
It was a one-sided fight.
Shields (2-0, 1 KO) gained the first knockout win of her young pro career with a whirlwind of head-snapping combinations of Szabados (15-9) at the MGM Grand Detroit. It was the televised debut of a female main event for Showtime.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist quickly established her speed and power with straight punches and a fearless approach that seemed to suggest a total lack of fear from the beginning.
“She has experience I wanted to go out there and show her I had power,” said Shields.
With head snapping rights that pierced Szabado’s guard and left hooks the followed, it was clear that Shields was not worried about return fire. The Hungarian fighter withstood the assault and attempted to counter with her own. Both kept punching despite the bell ending the round.
Shields looked at her for a second as she turned to go to her corner with a look that suggested another wave of blows was coming.
“I knew she was tough coming in. I watched the footage of her,” Shields said.
With 23 pro fights worth of experience, Szabados returned to the second round with a slight change. Now it seemed the plan was to crowd Shields and not allow her to extend her speedy punches. It appeared to bother Shields slightly who later revealed that she was head butted several times.
The next two rounds saw Shields mix her attack with some powerful blows to the Hungarian fighter’s body. And when she moved the attack higher, the head of Szabados snapped violently. But she did not go down.
“And that’s why I started going to the body to take some of her power. I was going to get the clean shots one round and she was going to go,” said Shields to the TV viewers.
Shields increased the tempo in the fourth round with sizzling combinations that Szabados tried to counter. A right snapped her head back and a few seconds later a perfect left hook to the chin really snapped her head back. Referee Harvey Dock wisely stepped in to halt the fight at 1:30 of round four. Szabados complained vehemently but she was too brave and too unarmed to stop further punishment.
Though Szabados never hit the floor it didn’t bother Shields.
“A knockout is a knockout. So I will take it,” said Shields who turns 22 on March 17.
It was only Shields second pro fight but she was clearly the superior fighter.
Earlier in the week, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza said a showdown with WBC middleweight titlist Christina Hammer was in the works and could be announced soon. Shields expressed openly her desire to acquire the “green and gold belt” of the WBC. Winning the NABF was the necessary step toward the target.
Coincidentally, Hammer has a similar style of hitting and holding like Szabados. But she uses a lot of movement much like the boxers from Europe in the amateur world.
Sitting in the audience in support of Shields were Mikaela Mayer and Virginia Fuchs her team mates on the USA Boxing team. Will they be next to join the professional ranks?
Mayer is a super quick and agile lightweight with height and movement. Don’t be fooled by her movie star looks. She knows how to fight. During the Olympics she seemed to be a victim of the crooked judging and lost a decision to a boxer from the Eastern bloc. Later, it was revealed some judges were sent packing from the Olympic village.
Fuchs is a scrappy flyweight from Arizona who usurped Marlen Esparza from the Olympics in Rio. Esparza, a bronze medalist in the 2012 London Olympics, was the favorite to repeat the feat. But Fuchs beat her during the box offs.
Both Fuchs and Mayer could be scooped up quickly by one of the promoters now interested in female boxing.