CLARESSA SHIELDS is only 24 years old and nine fights into her professional career. Yet on Saturday (April 13) she unified the four major middleweight belts when she outscored Christina Hammer at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Shields added the German’s WBO belt to the WBA, WBC and IBF titles that the American already held.
Bearing in mind that earlier in her short pro career Shields had already unified the WBC and IBF super-middle belts and as an amateur was a two time Olympic and World gold medallist, she could declare, “I am the greatest woman of all time.”
Shields won a unanimous decision after 10 rounds, 98-92 and 98-91 twice, hurting Hammer at times in the contest.
“I did it. She didn’t win a single round. I almost knocked her out. I swear I feel like I’m dreaming right now. Thanks to Christina Hammer and her team. They said she had a hard jab and they weren’t lying. Her jab is off the chain,” Shields said. “I was just calculating in the first round and after that I started picking her apart.
“I knew I could hurt her. I thought I finished her in round eight. I thought the fight should have been stopped. She was holding onto me. I just told myself, stay cool, stay cool. I was trying to get the perfect punch to get her out of there.”
Shields is eager for another defining fight. Cecilia Braekhus is currently the undisputed champion at welterweight and Savannah Marshall is the only boxer to have beaten Claressa amateur or pro. “Women’s boxing, we’re on fire,” Sheilds said. “I cannot wait to see the next super fight. Give me Cecilia Brækhus at 154 pounds. That’s who I want next. Either her or Savannah Marshall.”
Hammer had to admit, “She won, respect to her. She’s a tough, strong woman and that’s all I can say.
“She’s fast, she comes forward. She has fast hands. I couldn’t land my jab as good as I expected. I’ll come back and I’ll be back stronger.”