Monday, March 27, 2023  |


Claressa Shields dominates in homecoming win on Showtime

Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Claressa Shields is committed to being the face of women’s boxing. At this rate, she can make a case for being the face of boxing period, similarly to how Ronda Rousey captured hearts and minds to become the face of UFC for a period of time.

In only her second professional bout Shields (2-0, 1 knockout) returned to Detroit, an hour south of her hometown of Flint, Michigan, for the first time in over three years to defeat veteran former world-title challenger Szilvia Szabados (15-9, 6 KOs) in the main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation card at the MGM Grand. The official time of the stoppage was 1:30 of the fourth round.

With this appearance, Shields became the first female boxer to ever headline a card on premium cable. The stakes will only continue to get higher for the brash and confident 21-year-old fighter who came up from a hardscrabble background to capture gold in London in 2012 and then became the first American boxer in Olympic history to repeat as the gold medal winner four years later when she went to Brazil last summer.

Shields was simply too strong and too skilled against the overmatched Szabados, who was stopped for only the second time in her career. Shields began landing her power shots at will, including a giant left hook which nearly dropped Szabados and left her visibly stunned, and referee Harvey Dock was looking for a reason to save the very game Hungarian from her own courageous heart.

Shields landed 49 percent of her power punches, according Showtime’s ShoStats, to Szabados’ only landing 8 percent. That was the clear difference in a bout which at times resembled a one-sided street fight.

Chock-full of adrenaline, Shields came out swinging as hard as she could, landing missiles on Szabados and turning her face beet-red by the end of the first round. Shields threw with such aggression that she almost suffered a minor wardrobe malfunction. While looking for the knockout in front of family and friends, Shields outclassed the veteran Szabados with a diet of power punches from both hands.

The 5-foot-8 Shields, who fights professionally at middleweight, turned pro last November on the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev undercard in Las Vegas, defeating familiar foe Franchon Crews, whom she beat several times during her stellar 77-1 amateur campaign. While her bout was not televised, Shields took home $50,000 for her first purse and is guaranteed a minimum of $35,000, according to various reports and the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission.

Shields, managed by Mark Taffet, the former head of HBO’s pay-per-view arm, will be moved along quickly to capitalize off the heavy interest she has generated since making headlines following the Summer games in Brazil.

Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

Russia’s Nikolay Potapov (17-0-1, 8 KOs) outpointed previously unbeaten Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs) to win a razor-thin split-decision victory. The official scorecards were 96-94 and 96-94 for Potapov and 96-94 for Nieves.

Although virtually equally matched, Potapov landed more jabs and was a tad more accurate as the chess match/boxing match went on, landing 21 percent of total punches to Nieves’ 18 percent, according to ShoStats. Nieves, from Cleveland, got off to a quick start, beating the Russian to the punch and disrupting Potapov’s rhythm until Potapov’s new trainer, Sugarhill Steward from Detroit’s fabled Kronk gym, helped make key adjustments to turn the tide mid-way through the 10-round bout.

Potapov opened a cut over Nieves’ right eyelid, which proved to be a non-factor in the bout, as were the 59 bodyshots Nieves managed to land on Potapov.

Potapov has now won his third consecutive bout since boxing to a draw in a tough assignment with Stephen Young in Rochester, New York, last April. This bout was originally scheduled to take place in 2016 but was postponed due to an injury Potapov suffered in camp. With the victory, Potapov captured a minor regional title and makes the transition from prospect to bantamweight contender.

Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

Welterweight prospect Wesley Tucker (14-0, 8 KOs) defeated Ed Williams (12-2-1, 4 KOs) by unanimous decision in eight rounds. The official scores were 77-73, 79-71 and 78-72.

In a rather uneventful bout which featured headbutts, two point deductions for hitting behind the head and the winner somehow winning rounds without landing even one jab. Tucker, from Ohio, never got comfortable with the sloppy style of Williams. Veteran referee Frank Garza took a point away from Williams in both the third and fourth rounds for rabbit punching.

The 29-year-old Tucker, who has over 250 amateur bouts under his belt, managed to land just enough — only 22 percent of total punches thrown, according to ShoStats, not to be undone by Williams, who only landed 17 percent.

Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

In a very entertaining opening bout of the Showtime telecast, 22-year-old Joshua Greer Jr. from Chicago (12-1-1, 5 KOs) upset previously unbeaten bantamweight prospect James Gordon Smith (11-1, 6 KOs) by sixth-round knockout. The official time of the stoppage was 2:06.

After trading heavy blows for much of the bout, Greer landed a devastating right hand to drop Smith flat on his face. Referee Harvey Dock did not even finish the count. Greer made good on his vow at the weigh-in when he carried a pillow with him, promising to put Detroit native Smith to sleep.

After slugging each other in the first round, Greer found a home for the right hand in the second round, hurting Smith twice. Smith tried to gain control in the third round but Greer resigned to simply countering the wide open Smith and caught him easily as the round ended.

Greer landed a perfectly placed uppercut from close range to start the fifth round, which dropped Smith in the first 30 seconds. Smith was able to recover and hang in there while Greer began to fade. In the sixth round, Greer timed Smith coming in with his chin completely exposed and landed the big right hand which ended the bout.

Greer fought eight times in 2016 following his only professional defeat in 2015. In preparation for this bout he sparred with fellow Chicago native Adrian Granados.