By: Sean Crose
Claressa Shields attempted to make history on Friday night in her home town of Flint, Michigan, as she battled to become the first fighter ever to become a two division undisputed champion. The card started off, however, with a scheduled 6 round bantamweight affair, where the 4-3-2 Shelly Barnett faced off against the 8-1 Olympic Bronze medalist, Marlen Esparza. The first two rounds saw Esparza stick and move effectively. By the end of the third it was perfectly clear that Esparza’s footwork and sharp punching simply placed her at a level above that of Barnett.
The fourth round illustrated the fact that Esparza’s left hook almost couldn’t miss it’s mark. All Barnett – who was very game – could do was keep moving forward. In the fifth round, it was worth wondering if Barnett would make it to the final bell. The fighter simply kept getting hit. Plus, she couldn’t employ effective head movement. Unable to stop the momentum in the sixth and final round, Barnett was handed a unanimous decision loss. Esparza, on the other hand, is now set for a title fight.
Next up was another bantamweight fight scheduled for six rounds, as the 12-15-3 Noemi Bosques battled the 5-0-2 Jamie Mitchell. Right off the bat in the first round, Mitchell was able to land her shots. The obviously more powerful Mitchell was able to control the tempo in the second. The third round saw Bosques in retreat while Mitchell pursued and fired punches. By the fourth it was clear that the fight was a one sided affair, with Mitchell being the more effective of the two combatants. The referee wisely waved the fight off in the fifth. Mitchell, who looked like an expert combatant, was simply too much for the veteran Bosques.
The co-main was a scheduled eight rounder in the heavyweight division. featuring the 2-1 Monika Harrison as she squared off against the 2-0 Danielle Perkins. The first round was a fast paced affair as Harrison moved about and Perkins engaged in sharp shooting. The second saw Perkins doing what a professional fighter is supposed to – hit and not get hit. Perkins really began to put her punches together in the third. The fourth made it obvious that poor Harrison had nothing to help her deal with the determined Perkins.
With that in mind, Harrison came forward gamely in the fifth. Still, Harrison fell to the mat at the end of the round, thoroughly exhausted. The fight remained one sided in the sixth, though Perkins looked to be getting drained. By the seventh, Perkins was hitting and moving. To her credit, Harrison kept surviving and kept fighting, but Perkins was able to land well in the final round. Needless to say, Perkins was able to walk out of the ring with a unanimous decision win under her belt.
It was time for the main event. Shields, the 10-0 WBC, and WBO super welterweight titlist came out to face the 17-0 IBF super welterweight titlist Marie Dicaire for all their combined belts, as well as the WBA super welterweight strap. Shields landed more shots more effectively in the opening round. Dicaire tried to land on Shield’s in the second, but Shield’s excellent balance kept her from achieving her goal in any significant way. The Olympic star was able to mix aggression and defensive acumen with good results in the third.
The counterpunches of Shields may well have told the story of the fourth. Both women traded blows in high octane fashion at the end of the fifth. Shields turned up the heat in the sixth, landing hard and often. The seventh served to showcase just how outgunned Dicaire was against the lauded Shields. Dicaire moved about throughout the eighth, as she had throughout the previous rounds, but her strategy had little impact.
The ninth saw Dicaire try to rough up Shields a bit, but the effect was limited. She continued to try roughousing in the 10th and final round, but Shields remained gunslinger cool. Shields was also able to land and went on the attack in the fight’s final seconds. And so, the Flint, Michigan native made history Friday night by becoming the first fighter ever to be a two division undisputed champion. For Shields won the undisputed super weltweight division championship via the judge’s scorecards, which rewarded her performance with a unanimous decision victory.