Shields Dominates Nelson in ShoBox Main Event

By Caryn A. Tate on January 12, 2018
Shields Dominates Nelson in ShoBox Main Event
Claressa boxed beautifully and used her athleticism to great effect. (Photo: Showtime)

While Nelson was undefeated coming in and a former world title holder, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields is something special…

In the first ShoBox event of 2018, from Verona, New York, IBF and WBC super middleweight world champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (5-0, 2 KOs) faced challenger Tori Nelson (17-1, 2 KOs) in the ten-round main event. While Nelson was undefeated coming in and a former world title holder, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields is something special.

From the start, Shields used her range, tight defense, sharp and lightning fast punches, and full-body feints to very good effect. Nelson had the right idea, boxing and moving around the ring, but she was simply outclassed. She normally fights at middleweight and was clearly the smaller fighter tonight. Add to that the fact that she’s 41-years-old to Shields’ 22, and it wasn’t looking good for Tori.

Between rounds two and three, Nelson’s trainer told her she was giving Shields too much respect and she should “step to her.” It seemed like poor advice considering the level of the opposition here, particularly with the size disadvantage.

Claressa boxed beautifully and used her athleticism to great effect. Her defense was on point and her timing was fantastic. At times, Shields flurries and some have called those moments “wild.” But if you watch closely, you can see that Claressa actually protects her body well by keeping her elbows tight, and her punches are short as she moves her entire body (including her head) with the shots—which also makes her very tough to hit. It’s an interesting and unusual tactic, but it’s not as “wild” as it initially looks.

Nelson’s experience shone through—she is good at calculating distance and using angles, and also has very good defense. It was also clear that she doesn’t lack heart. There were times, too, when she worked her way inside and head butts occurred. They didn’t appear to be intentional, but it’s something Shields seemed a bit distracted by—perhaps a holdover from the more “proper” amateur system. With the target on her back due to her two Olympic gold medals, she and her team should be prepared for plenty of fouling from opponents who may not stand a chance in there with her otherwise.

After the sixth round, Shields’ trainer Jason Crutchfield told his charge, “I’m telling you, she’s ready to quit.”

While “quit” is a strong word, he was right that Nelson was tired, her legs didn’t look great, and while she took Shields’ shots well, they hurt her. But Nelson hung in there till the last bell. Shields dominated the rounds and landed far and away more clean punches than her opponent, so the result was never in question. But the bout going the distance was a surprise.

While it looked like Shields let Nelson off the hook a few times, more than anything, the two-minute rounds were to blame for the fight going the distance. There were several rounds when the action heated up, Shields was clearly hurting Nelson and had her in trouble, and then the bell rang. Nelson got a break and regrouped. That’s not to take away from Nelson’s heart and skill, but I strongly suspect that if three-minute rounds had been in effect tonight, we would have seen a different result. While three-minute rounds are allowed in women’s boxing in Las Vegas, if both boxers agree to it, Shields has gone on the record that she prefers two-minute rounds, so this may not change any time soon for her fights.

In the end, Shields won a dominant unanimous decision, winning by scores of 100-90 on all three cards.

“She did what I thought she was gonna do—be aggressive,” Shields said following the bout. “I landed every shot I possibly could, but she was just tough. I stopped trying to go inside ‘cause I didn’t want to get head butted.”

Showtime’s Steve Farhood asked Claressa about moving down to 160 pounds to face WBC and WBO middleweight world champion Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs), who was present tonight from ringside to observe her possible future opponent. “I think she’s pretty scared to be honest,” Shields said. “She’s more worried about me than I am about her. I’m gonna kick Hammer’s ass.”

Prior to the bout, Showtime’s Steve Farhood had also spoken with Hammer about the potential bout. “I’m 22-0, I have more experience, I’m tall, and I have to my reach, good footwork, and better technique than her.”

Hopefully Showtime will continue to invest in women’s boxing and give us the Hammer vs. Shields fight. While she may not be in Shields’ class exactly, Hammer is a legitimate world champion and a skillful fighter. It would be great to see “T-Rex” move on to her next challenge and see what transpires.

Kicking off the broadcast were super lightweights Sonny “Pretty Boi” Fredrickson (18-1, 12 KOs) and Shohjahon Ergashev (11-0, 11 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Prior to tonight, much was said about Ergashev—probably mostly due to his 100% knockout ratio. But for anyone clued in on the up-and-coming fighters in the United States, Fredrickson has been one to watch for quite a while. Ergashev’s level of opposition prior to this fight was sorely lacking, and while Fredrickson hasn’t fought beasts yet, his opponents have been of a much higher level. On top of that, Fredrickson had a very impressive amateur career. But surprisingly, these issues didn’t play into tonight’s bout as one might have expected.

In the first round, Fredrickson wasn’t using his jab enough to take advantage of his five-inch reach advantage, and Ergashev got inside more often than not. Sonny was also not using his height to full effect, leaning over to his right on occasion, which of course gave the southpaw Ergashev an easier target with his left hand. And he did find success with his straight left a few too many times, and he had noticeably faster hands and feet than the lankier 6’1” Fredrickson.

Fredrickson did a bit better in the second, but it was still Ergashev’s round. He used good athleticism with his footwork to catch Sonny from different angles, but the biggest weapon was the left hand that found his opponent fairly often. Fredrickson kept looking for the right hand, with Ergashev periodically dodging it entirely, though sometimes Sonny landed it well to the body. But with no jab working, Fredrickson’s power hand was too predictable, and Ergashev continued the left hand assault.

In the third, Ergashev landed another left hand that made Fredrickson lose his legs. He fell into the ropes and was clearly hurt, and Ergashev kept up the pressure. Sonny tried to throw back but holding would have been the best choice to buy himself some time. After a few more clean shots landed, the referee stopped the fight.

In the second bout of the evening, Jesse Hernandez (11-1, 7 KOs) faced Ernesto Garza (9-3, 5 KOs) in a ten-rounder at super bantamweight. It was a fun and closely contested fight for much of it, but Garza got the better of the earlier rounds. In the second, Garza dropped Hernandez with a flurry of shots, though Jesse wasn’t terribly hurt.

In the middle rounds, though, Hernandez came on and Garza seemed to be tiring. Both fighters have a lot of skill and were well-matched, despite Hernandez’s 3.5” height advantage—Garza showed himself to be a very effective smaller fighter, getting inside Hernandez’s reach, throwing a lot of punches, and slipping a good amount of shots.

In the final round, Garza really displayed his athleticism as he moved around the ring and slipped many of Hernadez’s shots. Garza’s versatility was impressive, as was the heart on both boxers. He appeared hurt but it was unclear from what, but after the bout the commentators advised that he’d broken his left hand.

In the end, Hernandez won a split decision in a very good showing from both young fighters. The decision really could have gone either way, and both fighters should be proud of their strong showings.

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  1. Koolz 12:12pm, 01/13/2018

    Shields looks like she is juicing like that famous Tennis Player(Gag)

    Who juiced through her whole career.  Williams…

    Don’t get me wrong Shields is a hell of a boxer but I am not going to be surprised if there is something going on like the USA Olympics something style.

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