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Claressa Shields was making history going into her fight against Szilvia Szabados. The fight was going to be the first women’s fight to main event a boxing show on premium cable television as part of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The Next Generation” card.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist had all the pressure heading into her second professional fight. Many have already deemed her boxing’s next superstar and the greatest fighter in the history of women’s boxing. Add in the fact, Friday’s bout was taking place at the MGM Grand Detroit, an hour south of her hometown of Flint.
Szabados is a 23-fight veteran and a former world title challenger. The recipe was there for Shields to slip up.
Shields didn’t let that happen as she stopped Szabados at the 1:30 mark of the fourth round to capture the NABF middleweight championship.
“I wanted to go out there and show that I had power and that I wasn’t scared of her or her experience in the first round,” Shields told Showtime’s Steve Farhood after the fight. “And that’s what I did.”
Before the fight, Shields (2-0) promised as soon as the bell rang, she would go right at Szabados and hit her with a right hand. She wanted Szabados to respect her from the outset.
And she did exactly that, in what was a precursor to how the fight would go.
Her constant pressure throughout the fight was too much for the Hungarian. Whether it was the right hand followed by the left hook or the combinations.
Szabados (15-9) was overwhelmed. Her best offense was her best defense which was her chin. She couldn’t generate any offense. For someone who had 21 more fights under her belt, she brought nothing to the table for Shields except rounds and her face as a target.
After Shields connected on another vicious right hand followed by a left hook, referee Harvey Dock had seen enough and stopped the fight in the fourth round.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) March 11, 2017
“I knew she was tough coming in,” Shields said. “I had watched some footage of her. That’s why I started going to the body. I was going to get the clean shot. One round and was she was going to go but he [Dock] stopped it in the fourth. A knockout is a knockout and I’ll take it.”
Shields connected on 95 of 265 punches, 88 of those being power punches.
Even though she was dominant, Shields still has some ways to go. As the fight went on, Shields started winging her shots. She also grew increasingly frustrated as it appeared Szabados kept head-butting her and it went unnoticed by Dock. The most important thing is she just needs professional rounds and that will come with time.
The 21-year-old says her style is a mix of Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard. On Friday night, she showed flashes of being just that but has a long way to go before we can call her the female version of the Boxing Hall of Famers.