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Claressa Shields dominates Hammer, makes history as first female Ring champion

Claressa Shields holds the inaugural The Ring Magazine women's middleweight championship aloft after earning undisputed champion status by dominating Christina Hammer over 10 rounds. Photo by Stephanie Trapp/Trappfotos/SHOWTIME
13
Apr

ATLANTIC CITY — Claressa Shields kept extending her arm and asking anyone in an already-crowded ring to pinch her, as if trying to convince herself that what the whole boxing world just witnessed was real.

But there was an unusual serenity about her. She wasn’t bouncing off the walls of her dressing room with her mouth running eight billion miles an hour like it usually does. Deep in her heart and her mind, Shields (9-0, 2 knockouts) knew she had beaten Christina Hammer for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world.

Shields, already the WBA/WBC/IBF middleweight champ, can add the WBO bauble to her belt collection and call herself The Ring’s first female champion after dominating Hammer Saturday night on the “Showtime Boxing: Special Edition” tripleheader at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Len Carter had it 98-92 for Shields, awarding Hammer (24-1, 11 KOs) the first and sixth rounds, and judges Guido Cavalieri and Robin Taylor each had it 98-91 for Shields, each scoring the eighth round 10-8 for the Shields, the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Then going full Muhammad Ali, Shields declared, “I am the greatest woman of all time! I did it. She didn’t win a round. I almost knocked her ass out.

“I swear I feel like I’m dreaming right now. Thanks to Christina Hammer and her team. They said she had a hard jab and they weren’t lying. Her jab is off the chain.

“I was just calculating – what is her jab like, how fast is she? I was just calculating in the first round, and after that I started picking her apart. I knew I could hurt her. I thought I finished her in round eight. I thought the fight should have been stopped. She was holding onto me. I just told myself, ‘Stay cool, stay cool.’ I was trying to get the perfect punch to get her out of there.”

In the first round, Hammer kept a good distance from Shields. “T-Rex” seemed to take the first stanza as a feel-out round. But it showed how Hammer was going to approach the powerful two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Shields attacked in the first moments of the second round. Hammer was able to weather the small squall and go back to using distance and trying to use the jab. Shields was busier in the second, however, and landed a right hand that gained Hammer’s attention. A Shields left hook also caught Hammer in the closing seconds of the round. Hammer only measured two connects in the second.

By the fourth, Shields appeared to find a comfort zone. A welt began building over Hammer’s left eye. Between the fourth and fifth rounds, Shields was talking more in the corner than her trainer, John David Jackson.

Shields closed the distance and began dictating the pace and rhythm of the fight. Shields had Hammer going backward, using double and triple jabs, then following up with a big right hand. In the sixth round, with the fight slipping away from her, Hammer made Shields miss a few times and even landed a right hand. But she couldn’t keep Shields off of her and lost yet another round.

Hammer kept making the mistake of stepping straight back and not to the side when Shields came forward. Hammer took some punishment inside of a minute left in the seventh.

After seven, it looked like Shields was way ahead.

A good Shields left with just over a minute left in the eighth had Hammer in trouble. Hammer lost her mouthpiece, and once referee Sparkle Lee put it back in, Shields had Hammer trapped in the corner and in trouble.

From there, it seemed a matter of time.

In the ninth, Shields was on the attack and it looked like there was very little Hammer could do to keep her away. Shields was hardly marked up, while Hammer’s eyes grew wider in fear of another Shields punch.

Shields hit Hammer with a counter right in the 10th round. The few times Hammer tried to mount an offense, Shields wasn’t there to be hit.

“I didn’t fight very good or fast,” Hammer said. “That’s boxing; anything can happen. I wanted this fight. She won, respect to her.  She’s a tough, strong woman and that’s all I can say.

“She’s fast, she comes forward. She has fast hands. I couldn’t land my jab as good as I expected.

“That’s boxing.  I’ll come back and I’ll be back stronger.”

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