Claressa Shields has made a habit of making history, and she added yet another page to her book by defeating Szilvia “Sunset” Szabados at the MGM Grand Detroit Event Center Friday night to win the NABF middleweight title in the first women’s boxing match to headline a card on a premium cable network.
Shields, the first American boxer regardless of gender to successfully defend an Olympic title, scored the victory over Szabados with a technical knockout at 1:30 in the fourth of six scheduled rounds.
Hailing from Miskolc, Hungary, Szabados, 26, entered the contest with a record of 15-8, including six knockouts. Although lacking the polished technique displayed by Shields, the Hungarian proved she could absorb punishment, withstanding multiple rights to the head from Shields in the first round.
Shields opened the second round with more of a stalking approach, looking for a way in to put her opponent on the canvas, but Szabados fought on with her unconventional style, launching several rights that looked more like a baseball pitcher throwing a fastball than a boxer throwing a punch.
The long windup for her right gave Shields an opening to exploit, which she did in the fourth round. A series of left hooks culminated with a solid blow flush to the side of the head that rolled Szabados’ eyes back momentarily, and that was all the referee needed to put an end to the contest.
The fight statistics showed just how lop-sided the contest was: Szabados connected on 8 percent of her punches, while Shields landed 36 percent of her blows, including 49 percent of her power punches.
The win, coming one week shy of Shields’ 22nd birthday, further burnishes what already is a legendary career that has seen the Flint, Michigan, native become the most decorated woman in U.S. boxing history. Since she first began fighting as an 11-year-old, she has compiled a 77-1 amateur record, won her first Olympic gold at the London 2012 Games at the age of 17, then defended that title at the Rio 2016 Games last August. She also has two world championship golds, two AIBA Female Boxer of the Year awards and gold from the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games to her credit.
Shields launched her professional career with a four-round victory over former USA Boxing teammate Franchon Crews Nov. 19 in Las Vegas, and now stands at 2-0 with one knockout.