Claressa Shields produced a flawless performance to beat Ema Kozin to retain her WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring magazine middleweight titles in her first pro fight in the UK.
With WBO champion Savannah Marshall watching ringside and an undisputed championship fight looming in the summer, Shields was able to showcase her remarkable skills, winning practically every second of every round of the 10-round bout in Cardiff.
The three judges rightly scored it a 100-90 wide decision for the American, who despite all she has achieved was fighting in just her 12th pro fight.
Shields now looks forward to a fight with Briton Marshall who was pretending to be asleep at ringside as the contest went the distance and engaged in a shouting match with her rival champion during her post-fight interview.
“If you perform like that I’m going to wipe the floor with you,” Marshall said before security pulled the two women apart.
Shields every inch an elite fighter
Despite only being 26 years old, Shields’ CV already contains two Olympic gold medals and world titles in three different weights, and it remains to be seen if Marshall can dethrone the woman who proved she is every inch a world class fighter.
Kozin emerged in fine style to some heavy rock music, but she was quickly outshone by the woman who has nicknamed herself the GWOAT – the greatest women of all time.
Entering the ring to a song by Ludacris, wearing gold and red sequin shorts, Shields smiled broadly as she hopped around the canvas before seamlessly sliding on her game face.
Kozin was unbeaten in her 22 pro fights going into the fight and Shields was happy for her rival to come onto her for the first few seconds, maybe anticipating a fast start from Kozin.
But there was no such onslaught and Shields took the centre of the ring and tried on a few occasions to catch Kozin with a counter right.
Shields went to the body in the second, landing three of the same combination to Kozin’s torso before stunning her with a right hand.
The American was equally aggressive in the third and fourth round, exploding into action in spurts, forcing her opponent backwards.
Kozin was feeling the pace and the shots, covering up whenever Shields unloaded. Shields placed her shots to break through Kozin’s defence and mixed in spiteful shots to further slow down the Slovenian.
Into the fifth and sixth and Shields was now unloading at will and with the referee hovering, Kozin did well to stay on her feet and survive the rounds.
Hooks, uppercuts, counters, slips – Shields was able to demonstrate almost her entire arsenal except for the knockout blow.
After a subdued eighth round by the standards she had already set, Shields taunted her opponent in the ninth, dipping and weaving but the knockout moment eluded her.
Dubois dominates on pro debut
Caroline Dubois cruised to her first win as a professional with a dominant 60-54 points decision win over Vaida Masiokaite.
The 21-year-old has been dubbed “the next face of women’s boxing” by her promoter Ben Shalom and was eager to impress after the bitter disappointment of failing to pick up a medal at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Dubois was not able to show off her much touted power but with such a spotlight already on the young fighter, the Londoner and her team will be delighted she came away with barely a scratch.
Wearing purple and gold shorts and walking out to the now boxing classic ‘Sweet Caroline’, Dubois was given an excellent reception by the Cardiff crowd and was able to control the early exchanges against her 34-year-old opponent.
Dubois demonstrated speed in her southpaw stance, but was unable to land cleanly in the opening rounds before a clean right in the third landed.
A grinning Masiokaite stumbled backwards but was able to stay on her feet. Dubois might have been waiting for her opponent to fall and hesitated as a result, before firing off some painful left hooks.
Despite chipping away at Masiokaite’s body and dominating the remaining exchanges, there was to be no highlight reel moment for the novice fighter in what was in truth a soft introduction to the pro ranks.
Masiokaite already had 14 defeats on her record, but Dubois’ trainer Shane McGuigan called it a “statement” win for his fighter, who will be eager to rise through the ranks as quickly as her older brother and heavyweight, Daniel, once did when he turned pro as a teenager.