TWO-time Olympic gold medallist Claressa Shields shone in her television debut, knocking out the durable Szilvia Szabados in the fourth round (1:30) to advance to 2-0 as a professional in the main event on ShoBox: The New Generation Friday on SHOWTIME at MGM Grand Detroit.
Shields (2-0, 1 KOs) put on a show less than an hour from her hometown of Flint, Mich., landing nearly 50 percent of her power shots in the first women’s boxing main event in premium television history.
Szabados (15-9, 6 KOs), of Hungary, didn’t touch the canvas but never really stood a shot against an opponent that has been billed as the future of women’s boxing. Shields came out blazing in the opening round, backing up Szabados with crisp, clean punches as she out-landed her opponent 31-4 in the first.
Shields was a bit more patient and settled in the second and third, but the onslaught continued against a relatively defenseless Szabados. After a flush right hand, left hook combo in the fourth, referee Harvey Dock had seen enough and stepped in to halt the contest with Szabados still on her feet.
“It was about respect,” Shields said of her performance. “I wanted to go out there and show I had power and I wasn’t scared of her. I knew she was tough coming in. That’s why I started going to the body. I was going 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 this great opportunity once again. It’s another step toward winning a world title.”
Szabados said she was disappointed with Dock’s decision to stop the fight when he did. “I’m very sad and heartbroken right now because it only went four rounds and I could have kept going,” she said. “Her hits were not painful. Her right hook got me a lot, I know. I could feel that one.”
In the ShoBox co-feature, Nikolay Potapov narrowly edged Antonio Nieves in a close, 10-round split decision scored 96-94 Potapov twice, 96-94 Nieves.
The technical match between undefeated top-10 bantamweight prospects was close from the opening bell. Nieves was the more active fighter, landing 64 punches per round to Potapov’s 50, but the round-by-round breakdowns reveal that Potapov prevailed in total connects as well as in landed power shots.
“I thought it was a close fight, but I came on strong at the end,” Potapov said. “I had more and finished stronger. That made the difference. I am much more aggressive now and I sit down on my shots. That’s the difference training at Kronk has done for me.
“I knew I won the fight. I wasn’t surprised when I got it. I wasn’t happy about the judging in my last big fight, but I thought this time I had done more than enough to win.”
Nieves did impressive work to the body, connecting on 59 total body shots compared to just 14 for Potapov, but it wasn’t enough to earn him the decision.
“I thought I won. I thought it was a bad decision,” Nieves said. “I don’t even think it should have been a spilt decision. I thought I was up clearly. He didn’t really score like he wanted to. I was making him miss and landing all the sharper punches. Everything he was hitting me with I was blocking and coming back.
“I don’t know why close fights don’t go my way. From here I go back to the drawing board. My whole team and a lot of the crowd felt like I won. I would love to fight him again.”
In a featured matchup between undefeated welterweights, Wesley Tucker (14-0, 8 KOs) edged Ed Williams in an eight-round unanimous decision scored 77-73, 79-71, 78-72 Tucker.
The foul-filled fight featured little action. Toledo’s Tucker landed 31 percent of his power shots compared to just 19 percent for Detroit’s Williams (12-2-1, 4 KOs), who was deducted two points for hitting to the back of the head on separate occasions. Tucker (14-0, 8 KOs) didn’t land a jab the entire fight, but his heavier shots and accuracy with his power shots seemed to be more impressive to the judges.
“He was an awkward, long fighter, who knew how to move very well,” Tucker said. “I’m not disappointed it turned out like that. Not every fight can be pretty, so I came out with the win and that’s what matters most.
“I was really frustrated in there, but I’m an action kind of fighter, so when he was running it kind of was pissing me off. He was all over the place. He ran the whole fight.”
Williams landed only 17 percent of his total punches.
“He didn’t show me anything I didn’t expect,” Williams said. “This week was a great experience for me, but you want to come out with a win and I wasn’t able to get it done.”
In the televised opener, Joshua Greer Jr. handed bantamweight prospect James Gordon-Smith his first loss with a brutal one-punch sixth-round knockout (2:06).
After a blazing first round that saw over 50 power shots landed, Greer pepped his opponent with a steady diet of counter rights as Gordon-Smith continued to charge forward and fight largely off-balance. Chicago’s Greer floored Gordon-Smith with a perfectly timed right uppercut in the opening seconds of the fifth and, despite looking dazed, Gordon-Smith rallied to survive the back-and-forth round.
In the sixth, Greer (12-1-1, 5 KOs) knocked Gordon-Smith out cold with a huge straight right that sent the Detroit native falling face forward as referee Harvey Dock immediately waved off the bout.
“I guess he blinked. That was the problem,” Greer said. “I told everyone when I got here I didn’t have that pillow for no reason. I said don’t blink and I wasn’t playing. I knew I was going to get him. The pillow is just my trademark. It’s nothing personal. You have to stand out somehow. That’s just what I do. Nothing personal to him.
“I knew what I came to do. I’m excited but I’m not shocked. My team knew what would happen and they had confidence in me. I knew it was only a matter of time.”
Gordon-Smith (11-1, 6 KOs) was the 160th fighter to suffer his first defeat on the prospect developmental series. And Nieves would later become the 161st.