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Claressa Shields: First Boxer to Win Undisputed Titles in 2 Divisions

By Caryn A. Tate on March 5, 2021


Shields fought with her feet planted most of the time tonight. (Photo: via New York Times)

On Friday, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (11-0, 2 KOs) faced Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-1) in a 10-round junior middleweight title unification fight. The bout was for all four world titles at 154, with the winner becoming undisputed world champion. If Shields were to win, she would become the only boxer to ever unify all four world titles and become undisputed champion in two different weight classes.


Particularly for Shields, there was a lot riding on this fight, the performance, and the card as a whole.


Shields fought with her feet planted most of the time tonight. It was clear she was looking for the knockout. Not even a minute into the first round, Shields landed a lead right hand direct on Dicaire’s chin, shaking her. From then on, every time Shields connected (which was often), it was clear Dicaire just couldn’t figure out how she was getting hit.


Shields fought still. She didn’t move much at all, planted her feet, and timed Dicaire, catching her clean almost every time she let her hands go.


Dicaire, who has a background in karate prior to boxing, began to foul. She clinched far too often, and in the clinch she put forearms to Shields’ throat, landed rabbit punches, and even grabbed Shields’ arms in the clinch and twisted, trying to either tire them out or cause injury to Shields’ arms. The referee, Michael Griffin, never seemed to get serious about the warnings to Dicaire, despite the potential danger of some of her fouls.


Several rounds in, Dicaire was getting busted up. It would have been best if her corner had stopped the fight; she was never really competitive in the bout, and clearly had no shot of winning. It’s supposed to be a competition, so if a fighter is getting hit constantly and has no chance to win, why allow it to continue?


In the end, though, it went the distance. All three judges scored it appropriately, 100-90 for Shields.


“I wanted the knockout, but she kept headbutting and elbowing me. But I’m happy—I’m the first boxer to be undisputed in two weight classes,” Shields said in the post-fight interview.


“I started boxing here when I was 11 years old. Never in a million years did I think I would be here on pay-per-view, 2 Olympic gold medals, 12 championship belts now, and undisputed twice…it feels weird to say ‘undisputed twice,’” she laughed.


She was asked about fighting current 140-pound unified champion Katie Taylor if they met at 147. Shields said, “147 is the scary thing there, not Katie Taylor. Katie is a great fighter but I’d have to get paid real well to lose my butt.”


Shields was also asked about a potential match-up with Savannah Marshall, the winner of only fight Shields lost in the amateurs. Marshall campaigns at middleweight.


Said Shields, “Why did I become undisputed twice, but she didn’t want to fight me at 160? She wants to fight for a vacant belt? Because she’s scared of me!” She went on to challenge Marshall’s promoter to pay her if he wanted to make the fight, and stated he had only offered her $250,000 to fight Marshall previously.


It was a tremendous performance by Shields, who at 25 years old, continues to improve fight after fight. Her fundamentals were on point tonight, from her elite footwork and use of angles to her superb catch-and-counters. She’s a special fighter, and she has now made history yet again. 


In the co-main event, Danielle Perkins (3-0, 1 KO) faced Monika Harrison (2-2-1, 1 KO) in an 8-round heavyweight bout. The southpaw Perkins had her way throughout the fight, utilizing superior athleticism and speed. Harrison put up a good effort but just didn’t have the skills to hang with Perkins. By round 7 or 8 there was a definite argument to stop the fight since Harrison clearly didn’t stand a chance to win, but it didn’t happen.


All three judges scored it 80-72 for Perkins.


After the fight, Perkins said, “I’m grateful for Claressa giving me this opportunity. She’s a real woman for women.”


Earlier, super bantamweights Jamie Mitchell (6-0-2, 4 KOs) and Noemi Bosques (12-16-3, 2 KOs) fought in a 6-round bout. Mitchell displayed good fundamentals, a nice jab, foot movement, and defense while letting go with accurate punches that rattled Bosques multiple times early. Bosques was just not in Mitchell’s league, and by the third round I felt it should be stopped for Bosques’ safety. Finally, in the fifth round, Mitchell unleashed a combination on Bosques and the referee waved it off.


“Thanks to Claressa Shields for putting me on this card, baby! She is the GOAT! She just set the platform for all women combat sports,” Mitchell said in the post-fight interview.


The first bout on the card featured bantamweights: Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (9-1, 1 KO) vs. Shelly Barnett (4-4-2) in a 6-rounder. Esparza took the fight on 10 days’ notice.


Barnett only fights one way, which is to barrel in and throw looping shots. Esparza can obviously box, and much of the fight she chose to do that and she had it all over Barnett. She was able to control Barnett with the jab and keep Barnett off balance and unable to set her feet. Now and then Esparza got pulled into Barnett’s fight, and Esparza got hit too much. But by and large she boxed well and defeated Barnett in a one-sided contest.


Between rounds, Esparza could be seen putting her feet up on the ropes. When asked about it after the bout, Esparza said she did it because she’s short, her seat was high, and her feet didn’t reach the floor so she didn’t want her feet dangling “like a toddler.”


The final cards read one 60-54 and two of 60-53. Those two judges scored one round 10-8 for Esparza.

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