Claressa Shields, the only American boxer to earn back-to-back Olympic gold medals, won her professional debut Friday evening with a unanimous decision against former USA Boxing teammate Franchon Crews in a four-round super middleweight bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shields entered the match as the most decorated woman in U.S. boxing history. A four-time national champion, she compiled a 77-1 amateur record while taking two world titles, the gold medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and two AIBA Female Boxer of the Year awards, in addition to her 2012 and 2016 Olympic golds.
Crews, also making her pro debut Friday, came to Las Vegas with eight U.S. titles to her credit, as well as a silver medal at the 2012 world championships and a bronze four years later. In the only prior meeting between the two, Shields was the victor at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Wearing white trimmed with gold, Shields charged out of her corner at the opening bell and delivered a solid right. The blow seemed to wake Crews up, an alternate for the 2012 Olympic team, who promptly backed Shields into the ropes and delivered a flurry of blows before both fighters settled into their game plans, with Shields looking to exploit her superior quickness to overcome the 1.5-inch reach advantage Crews enjoyed.
Early in the second round Crews pushed Shields to the mat, and the Olympic champ responded with a series of heavy rights. A second push to the mat in the fourth round focused Shields as she stalked her foe, looking to land her powerful right.
The contest went the full four two-minute rounds. The three judges’ cards reflected the same scoring, 40-36, giving Shields the victory.