When Claressa Shields threw a looping proper hand throughout her middleweight title protection in Detroit on Saturday evening, the punch would generally make contact and both clip the jaw of the challenger, Maricela Cornejo, or bounce off her left shoulder.
But when Shields, 28, threw her proper hand straight at Cornejo’s face, she not often appeared to overlook. Factor in counter left hooks to the top and physique, together with a stiff, tempo-setting jab, and Saturday’s bout yielded a well-known outcome.
All three judges scored all 10 rounds for Shields, and the undisputed middleweight champion’s accuracy and aggressiveness left no room for debate concerning the scorecards.
But in profitable her twelfth bout by resolution, towards simply two knockouts, Shields as soon as once more prompted a persistent query together with her efficiency: Why does such a dominant fighter win so few bouts by knockout?
“Height don’t matter, and power don’t matter either,” mentioned Shields, the undisputed middleweight champion who’s now 14-0 with two knockouts. “It’s all about skill and will and heart, and I always have more of that than all these girls.”
In Round 7, Shields dug a left hook to Cornejo’s intestine earlier than knocking her wobbly with a thunderous proper. Here, a bona fide knockout artist may need ended the battle.
But the bell sounded to finish the spherical, sparing Cornejo extra harm, and offering some clues about why Shields’s knockout proportion seems so lackluster in mild of her spotless report.
First, there’s the format.
Men’s title fights are scheduled for 12 rounds, with every spherical lasting three minutes. Women’s rounds final simply two minutes every, and title fights are capped at 10 rounds. Given an additional minute in Round 7, Shields may need landed a punch or flurry that might have stopped the bout.
And if given 36 minutes to work like the boys, Shields may cease extra opponents by attrition, even when she just isn’t a single-shot knockout puncher. (Conversely, extra males’s title fights may finish in choices if given solely 20 minutes in two-minute chunks.)
Shields’s opponents additionally play an element.
Many professional prospects, no matter gender, take simple fights to fatten their early profession data. Shields as a substitute fought for a world title in her fourth skilled bout. All of her opponents have been high-level professionals with the abilities and sturdiness that include championship degree boxing. The loss to Shields drops Cornejo’s report to 16-6 with six knockouts.
“I pressed for the knockout,” Shields mentioned. “Maricela’s just tough.”
Cornejo accepted the bout with lower than two weeks’ discover, after the unique opponent, Hanna Gabriels, failed a doping take a look at.
At the opening bell, Shields established place on the middle of the ring, whereas Cornejo, who, at 5-foot-10, stood two inches taller than Shields, circled alongside the perimeter. Shields missed with a wild proper hand, however tagged Cornejo with a left hook. Later, the fighters threw simultaneous proper fingers, however solely Shields landed.
Those first few heavy blows didn’t dent Cornejo’s confidence.
The 36-year-old contender moved to Las Vegas in April, and commenced working with Ismael Salas, the Cuban émigré boxing coach who has guided a number of boxers to world titles. Before the battle, Cornejo mentioned her temporary stint in Salas’s gymnasium had already made her a better boxer and a extra highly effective puncher. Between rounds, Salas sought to reassure her.
“You hit harder than she does!” he shouted to Cornejo in Spanish after Round 4.
Inspired, Cornejo landed a straight proper to open Round 5. Shields responded with a number of percussive punches and stayed on monitor.
“You got her attention. You got her respect,” Shields’s coach, John David Jackson, mentioned between rounds. “Now you’ve got to step to her. You’ve got to make her engage you.”
Organizers sought to emphasise the presentation of the battle in Detroit, roughly 70 miles south of the place Shields grew up in Flint, Mich. Before the opening bell, the legendary Motown quartet The Four Tops sang the nationwide anthem, and Shields, decked out in a glittering, gold-and-green two-piece package, walked to the ring accompanied by Kash Doll, a Detroit-based rapper.
Several of Detroit’s best-known boxing dignitaries turned out for the bout. The veteran supervisor Jackie Kallen attended, whose life impressed the fictional film “Against the Ropes.” So did SugarHill Steward, the top coach at Kronk Gym who modified his identify from Javan Hill in 2019 to honor his late uncle, Emanuel Steward, who based the coaching middle. Detroit boxers at ringside included Milton McCrory, the previous welterweight champion who skilled at Kronk, alongside together with his well-known stablemate Thomas Hearns.
They watched Shields ship one other win, beginning the cycle once more to hunt future opponents. Shields has received a lot that she screens 4 weight courses — 168-pound tremendous middleweight right down to 147-pound welterweight — for potential bouts.
She has additionally thought of rematches to previous rivals.
After Saturday’s win, Shields mentioned she’s eager about returning to Detroit to face the winner of an excellent middleweight title battle between Franchón Crews-Dezurn and Savannah Marshall, scheduled for July 1 in Manchester, England.
Shields has already defeated each of these boxers. By resolution.
Source web site: www.nytimes.com