ShoBox results: Claressa Shields dominates Tori Nelson
Claressa “T-Rex” Shields won every second of every round against Tori Nelson in her first defense of the unified IBF and WBC female super middleweight titles, on Friday night. The fight was the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” card televised on Showtime and held at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
“She did her game plan but I just did more,” Shields told Showtime’s Steve Farhood in the post-fight interview. Earning three identical scores of 100-90, the result could’ve been predicted by the end of the second round and, for that reason, Shields was asked if it was frustrating not being able to knock Nelson down, let alone out.
“I landed every shot that I thought possible to land,” Shields said. “She was just tough. She wasn’t a pushover. A lot of the time, when I did see shots open and I went for them, I got headbutted. So I stopped going in because I didn’t want to get cut. I stayed on the outside and threw my body shots more.”
Shields, 5-0 (2), dominated in just about every facet of the fight. Starting off with a snapping jab, follow-up right hands and power left hooks on the inside earned the respect of a tight guard from Nelson early and, by the fifth two-minute round, they started to pierce through. That was the first time Shields wobbled Nelson with a shot but the 41-year-old challenger was able to keep her feet moving and hold when she needed to. Shields almost knocked Nelson down at the end of the seventh round, after a right hand, but Nelson proved to be tough, eking out rounds as she inched closer to the finish line of a moral victory. Nelson, 17-1-3 (2), got there after surviving a hellish 10th round, in which Shields was still going for the KO. As Shields’ name was announced the winner, however, Nelson could be seen with a peculiar smirk, perhaps knowing that this part-time boxer going rounds with someone like Shields would lead into some indefinite questions following it.
Shields, 22, took the questions in stride knowing that better opponents would lead to better recognition in the ring.
“I think she is pretty scared to be honest,” Shields said about the unified WBC/WBO female middleweight titleholder Christina Hammer, who was there in attendance. “She didn’t even show up here to fight. She was supposed to fight today on the undercard but she didn’t want me to see her. She’s more worried about me than I am her and I’m gonna kick Hammer’s ass.”
Hammer, 22-0 (10), was indeed scheduled to make her United States debut on the card but visa issues of her own undoing were to blame for the accomplished German opponent Shields needs to make a shutout victory an impressive one. By the end of the interview, Shields also called out the undisputed female welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, which goes to show that Shields and her team may have already recognized what she has to do.
After 10 tremendous rounds of fighting, junior featherweight Jesse Hernandez earned a split decision over Ernesto Garza III but there were no losers in this ShoBox co-feature.
Hernandez, 11-1 (7), got off to a slow start, as Garza started by letting his hands go and without care of a distinct height and reach disadvantage. By the volume of his punches alone, Garza was able get the better of his foe on the inside and the seldom body shots Hernandez landed in return wasn’t enough to slow him down. In the final seconds of the second round, a lunging left hand from Garza caught Hernandez unbalanced and dropped him to the canvas for a knockdown.
Garza, 9-3 (5), finally succumbed to the body shots starting in the third and into the middle rounds. While Hernandez was slowly breaking him down, at that point of the fight, Garza was still willing to engage with a combination after eating a shot in the process. By the fifth round, Hernandez seemed to be in full control, as his edge in power was becoming obvious, but, thanks to Garza’s gutsy counters and tremendous chin, Hernandez returned to his corner at the end of the round with a swollen right eye.
After the fight’s midway point, Hernandez landed some of his biggest punches of the fight with right hands upstairs. In the sixth and seventh rounds, Hernandez knocked Garza’s mouthpiece out twice and, in both instances, somehow, Garza took the shots in stride. The added body shots from Hernandez started to really wear Garza down toward the end of the seventh. However, the 29-year-old from nearby Saginaw, Michigan, had a second wind looming.
Starting in the eighth, Garza went right back to outworking Garza with his volume punching. Hernandez seemed to share the same amazement everyone else in attendance did, as Garza was able to dig deep late in the fight and deliver combinations on the front foot. Entering the final round, both fighters gave the impression that they knew the fight hung in the balance. For the round’s first two minutes, Garza maintained his late pace but Hernandez saved his best shots for the final minute and, in the final seconds of the fight, the Fort Worth, Texas, native landed big right hands that kept Garza from celebrating like he did just after the final bell sounded.
With several close rounds left up in the air, scores of 97-93 and 95-94 in Hernandez’s favor overruled the only score for Garza (95-93) but Garza’s effort would’ve been enough to earn the same scores and should be more than enough to garner a rematch.
In the opening bout of the Showtime card, Shohjahon Ergashev forced a third round stoppage of Sonny Fredrickson to keep his record perfect. The junior welterweight contest was scheduled for eight rounds.
Born in Fergana, Uzbekistan, and fighting out of the Kronk Gym in Detroit, Michigan, Ergashev, 11-0 (11), made a big splash in his television debut beating an unbeaten opponent and doing so with brute force. A southpaw, Ergashev came out of the gate swinging and, with the help of a push after landing a right hand, Fredrickson flew into the ropes within the first minute. Ergashev was clearly on a mission to inflict pain on Fredrickson, with the velocity in which he threw his hooks, and it seemed as though nothing would stop him.
Fredrickson, Toledo, Ohio, tried his best to ward Ergashev off with a jab but, with his footwork already in disarray from the jump, the 23-year-old struggled to find a comfortable position. In the second round, Ergashev landed a few clean shots around the guard and, again, he staggered to the other side of the ring. Fredrickson, 18-1 (12), showed pretty good resistance until the fateful third, in which a left hand through the guard and on the chin had him hurt. Fredrickson stumbled backward and into the ropes, giving Ergashev an easy target to unleash more. Referee Benjy Esteves Jr. called a halt to the bout at the 1:58 mark of the third, after Fredrickson stood on shaky legs with his hands down for too long.