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Shields Wins Handily On “ShoBox”

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Things got started on ShoBox with a fight between two relative unknowns in the super lightweight division, Uzbekistani 26-year-old power puncher Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11KO) taking on the American prospect, 23-year-old Sonny Fredrickson (18-1, 12KO).

Ergashev’s plan appeared simple: the left hand. Fredrickson never really got anything going in the fight, never landing a punch that dissuaded Ergashev from pummelling him. The Uzbekistani fighter spent the duration of the fight baffling the lanky Fredrickson with his surprisingly great footwork. He would punch Sonny in the face, move to his right, punch him again, and repeat. The referee, a humanitarian, stopped the fight in the third. Fredrickson had never gone down, but may have actually benefitted from taking a knee and clearing his head. You live and you learn.

Sonny should also learn to employ his reach advantage. He had a 5-inch advantage in this fight, and never bothered using it. You can’t teach tall, but you can be taught to use it.

The second fight featured two super bantamweights that couldn’t stop squaring up at the wrong times. Jesse Hernandez (11-1, 7KO) took on Ernesto Garza (9-3, 5KO). Garza knocked Hernandez down early, but he had missed his chance to score the knockout. Hernandez wasn’t hurt, and came out in the third round with abhorrent intentions. He started walking the tired Garza down, landing thunderous body shots.

Garza feigned a low blow midway through the fourth, which gave him a much-needed rest. It apparently helped, because Garza caught his second wind and the fight became a war of attrition. Since neither man had the requisite power to end the fight, both men wound up taking beatings.

Jesse Hernandez won a split decision. The ShoBox broadcast was in agreement. I was in agreement. Hernandez did more damage, and that’s usually all you need to do.

The main event featured Claressa Shields (5-0, 2KO) taking on Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2KO). Nelson is 41 years old, and a well-seasoned fighter. She lacks power, but boxes beautifully. Nelson was a world champion at 154, but was expected to get rolled over by the biggest star in female boxing.

Shields is a monster. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, the only American boxer – man or woman – who can make such a claim. Showtime was betting big on her being a star, having her headline ShoBox despite having just four pro fights under her belt. Despite her inexperience, Shields is already a unified champion at super middleweight.

Shields has all the makings of a star – she’s a good talker and she’s ambitious. Oh, and she can fight, too. This fight was to be her star building performance to kick off 2018.

One of first things you notice about Shields is that she doesn’t bounce. Her balance is near perfect, and she doesn’t move unnecessarily. Her feet stay close to the mat, meaning she never has to hop. This allows her to react to anything her opponent might do.

Generally, her opponents have not done much of anything. But Tori Nelson has been rounds and has been a champion. You don’t go undefeated as woman without being able to fight at least a little bit – the usual shepherding along against bums doesn’t happen with the women. By all accounts, Nelson was going to be a tough out even if she wasn’t quite at Shields’ level.

The fight began with Shields alternating between calmly boxing from the outside with an effective jab and a good straight right hand, and wildly diving in landing tons of punches. They lacked the power of her longer, straighter shots, but she was scoring no less. Nelson, to her credit, didn’t let Shields discourage her. Out matched by a bigger, faster opponent, she took all of Shields best punches.

All that really means is that the fight became increasingly one sided as Shields realized she was in no danger of getting hurt by the older woman. By the fifth round, she was channelling Pernell Whitaker, dipping and dodging punches with ease. By the sixth round, Shields was showing off an advanced technique called the old one two. She had figured out the range, and was feeding Nelson a steady diet of jabs followed by slicing right hands. Again, Nelson took her beating with dignity.

Even when Nelson would back Shields up into the ropes, Shields would manage to slip damn near everything thrown at her and land sharp counters. If I have one major criticism, it’s that Shields still throws her hooks like an amateur. She can land her left at will, but she doesn’t turn it over. Perhaps the fifth-round stoppage she was seeking would have come if she was turning the hooks over.

Either way, Shields put on a dominating performance even if she didn’t stop Nelson. For young fighters, getting rounds in can be the most valuable part of their development. The desire to blast out everyone can be tempting, but learning to navigate a full ten rounds is vital in competing at the championship level. Shields won in a unanimous shutout, even if she did look disappointed in her inability to earn the stoppage.

The crazy thing for Shields is that she is, at just 5-0, a prospect with two world championship belts around her waist seeking challenges at new weights. There is no denying that she is a special athlete, who tonight showed off a high motor and an ability to stay within her game plan when she can’t find the stoppage. If the future of women’s boxing is in the hands of Shields, Christina Hammer, and Katie Taylor then I expect 2018 to be the beginning of a renaissance for the women in our great sport.

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About Thomas Peter John Penney

Thomas Penney is a freelance writer. He writes about boxing for NY Fights, and whoever else will have him. Send tips to tpjp28@mun.ca.

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