Claressa Shields made history yet again by claiming the WBC and WBO 154-pound world championships with a dominating unanimous decision over Ivana Habazin Friday on SHOWTIME from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
Shields became the fastest fighter in history, male or female, to win world titles in three different weight divisions, surpassing the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Kosei Tanaka, who both accomplished the feat in 12 fights. The near-shutout was scored 99-89, 100-90, 100-89.
Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) overpowered Habazin from the opening bell, utilizing a strong jab and a steady diet of body shots that left the Croatian mostly in defensive mode throughout the 10-round fight. In the sixth round, a series of body shots forced Habazin to take a knee in the first knockdown of her career. It was also the first knockdown for the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and undisputed middleweight world champion in her professional career.
Following the knockdown, Habazin continued forward but did so without throwing many punches. Habazin (20-4, 7 KOs) threw just 285 compared to 516 for Shields, who also connected on 38 percent of her power shots compared to just 18 percent for Habazin.
In the opening bout of the telecast, IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Elin Cederroos edged WBA champion Alicia Napoleon Espinosa to unify the super middleweight division in an all-action slugfest scored 95-94 three times.
Cederroos (7-0, 4 KOs) was more active from the opening bell, throwing 747 total punches over 10 rounds compared to 432 for the slightly more effective Napoleon Espinosa (12-2, 7 KOs). But the difference in the close scorecards was a second round knockdown that Cederroos registered with a perfectly timed check left hook in the closing moments of the second. It was the first knockdown of Napoleon Espinosa’s career and ultimately the deciding factor in the scorecards.
“I’m so happy. I showed that I can box and take a war,” Cederroos said. “But when I relaxed the punches just came. It feels so wonderful. Alicia was a great opponent.”
Napoleon Espinosa was game and hurt the Swedish Cederroos multiple times but she was largely unable to get inside against her taller opponent who consistently landed the bigger punches from a distance.
“I didn’t think I lost. I thought that it was fairly close but I thought I was ahead,” Napoleon Espinosa said. “It is what it is, but I don’t think that I lost this fight.
“I know she was strong, but I wanted a tough fight. I know that Elin is an athlete. I don’t feel that I lost. I feel like it was close.”
Napoleon Espinosa had been hoping that a win would position her for a 2020 fight with Claressa Shields at middleweight with all four of Shields’ 160-pound titles on the line.
“Congrats on the fight with Shields because that was what I was looking forward to,” Napoleon Espinosa said.