Claressa Shields Decisions Ivana Habazin, Makes Boxing History

By
Robert Aaron Contreras

On
Friday, Claressa Shields (10-0, 2 KO) was up to her old tricks: bruising and
bullying her way to a commanding victory over former champion Ivana Habazin (20-4,
7 KO). With the unanimous decision, the American popularizer set the record for
fewest fights to claim a championship belt in three weight divisions, man or
woman (here’s your grain of salt). Vasiliy Lomachenko previously held the mark,
accomplishing the triple crown in 12 fights.

“I
did it in 10 fights,” Shields explained to Showtime correspondent Jim Gray.
“The fastest boxer in history to become a three-time division world champ.”

That Shields came out unscathed was to be expected considering her two gold medals and her imposing style capable of bashing super middleweights let alone a lifetime welterweight.

Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account

All
told, Shields arguably give away the opening round. Hanging back for the
majority of the two minutes, and in lapses driving forward with her head down
allowing the Croatian veteran to land rabbit punches. Meanwhile a handful of
rights and lefts from Shields skidded across Habazin’s waste and belly.

Habazin,
30, broke out for Round 2 like a demoniac, though with fewer punches than
grappling attempts. The cable commentary was quick to point out her wrestling
but not Shields’. The champion closed the distance with a triple jab and put
her stamp on the action with monster right hands, up close. The shots left
Habazin noticeably more timid in the next couple rounds. She desperately
avoided Shields’ power. Even in the center of the ring for the fourth stanza,
feints and short jabs were useless as she was left completely out of range.

Routinely
Shields allowed herself to be pressured to the ropes. She easily turned Habiza.
The bell to the fourth round ended with Shields leaning against the ropes,
making taunting gestures to her challenger.

The
action shifted back to the center of the ring for the sixth inning. Shield
walked over and uncorked a right cross followed by a lethal left hand to
Habazin’s midsection. The clobbered fighter could only hobble around, hoping to
job off the pressure swelling in her liver. That’s when more punches came her
way. Powerful. Fair, until that knockdown.

Consider
the sixth round that saw Habazin from a sustained body attack drop to a
knee—accounting for the first knockdown of Shields’ career. Impressive enough,
to be sure. But Shields had one more right hand for her downed opponent.
Referee Sparkle Lee did not seem to mind, ignoring the shot, saving her energy
for the eighth period where she took a timeout to reprimand the title
challenger for holding.

Habazin
had a revitalizing stretch early in the seventh round.  She dumped rights and lefts into Shields, who
was bunkered up at the perimeter of the ring. Her engine sputtered soon after
and Shields used her big power to set momentum back in her favor.

In
Round 8, Shields was stepping into hard hooks into Habazin. The visting boxer’s
only luck was to grab a hold of Shields and recalibrate her strategy. The
referee would have none of it, quickly stepping between the combatants to issue
a warning to Habazin. Left with no other choice, overhand rights were Habazin’s
attack of choice for the ninth frame. Shields was still having her way.

The
24-year-old Michigan native stabbed into her counterpart with long right hands.
Habazin moved away in survival mode and Shields, catching up with her, covered
immense distance arcing right hands.

Habazin
in the final round used her weight to stick Shields to the ropes. Throwing
hooks, madly, her eyes closed. In return, Shields flurried both hands, circled
around Habaizn, off the ropes. The action soon trickled back to the perimeter
of the ring: Shields knowing this was a wrap, sticking behind her gloves,
counting down the clock. More hooks from Habazin came her way, most of them
colliding with Shield’s elbows.

Victorious—again—is
undoubtedly the face of women’s boxing in America. And that face was all smiles
after putting an end to her harshest rivalry.

Speaking
with Gray after the fight, Shields admitted that she was in there not just to
come out victorious but to punish Habazin, the closing argument to a feud
originating from two previously-scheduled meetings and the controversy
surrounding the assault against James Ali Bashier. “I think Ivana can take a
piece of humble pie and go back to Croatia… she couldn’t do nothing with
me—zero.”

“Boots”
Ennis knocks out Eyubov in fourth round

Jaron
Ennis (25-0, 23 KO) is still undefeated after stopping Bakhitiyar Eyubov
(14-2-1, 12 KO) in four rounds. After two knockdowns in the first round, Eyubov
became a sedentary target, which referee Albert Early Brown couldn’t stand to
see be whipped around any longer.

Ennis
was forced to place matador early. Eyubov charged forward from a crouched
position, firing off left hooks. Ennis countered with quick combinations, his
zipping about, paying to press down on his stalking opponent’s head to create
distance, stalling Eyubov’s attack for the split second he needed to circle
away. The undefeated prospect couldn’t stay off the topes forever so he snapped
back-to-back left uppercuts, which stunned Eyubov.

One
more stunning left hand found its way between Eyubov’s eyes and he went down.
He made it up and was treated with more ripping rights and left, quickly going
down again. Still all in the opening frame.

For
the next two rounds, Ennis spent more time along the ropes from his opponent’s
pressure. But noticing Eyubov’s lowered head and the perfect opening for
uppercuts, Ennis strung together combinations: right hook downstairs, followed
by left uppercut to the head. The punches were chipping away Eyubov.

In
the fateful fourth, Eyubov could only look on as a spectator which Ennis’
combos flickered across his face—a succession of right-left-right, short and
flashy shots. The referee saw him offer back no punches, opting to attempt to
wrestle, and he waved it off.

Ennis
has now opened his career with 25 straight wins, 92 percent of which have been
by knockout. Eyubov has dropped two straight, making up a three-fight winless
streak, fighting to a draw prior to his back-to-back losses.