By: Sean Crose
Two of the highest level matches that were likely to be found in contemporary boxing went down Saturday at London’s O2 Arena. That’s where Claressa Shields put her WBC, WBA, and IBF middleweight titles on the line against WBO middleweight champion Savanah Marhsall in a scheduled 10 rounder. Before that, however, the WBO, WBC, and IBF junior lightweight belts were up for grabs as Mikayla Mayer took on Alycia Baumgardner in another scheduled 10 rounder. Both these fights featured top divisional talent squaring off for divisional supremacy. The fact that each woman was no fan of her opponent only added to the tension.
The 13-1 Baumgardner had a strong beginning to her fight, which might have taken some by surprise. Mayer buckled down, however, and asserted herself as the bout went on. As the rounds began stacking up it was clear that, although no barn burner, the fight was neck and neck and that each woman would have to perform her absolute best in order to get an edge on the other. After the final bell, there was a sense that the judges could rule the bout any number of ways – for Mayer, for Baumgardner, or even a draw – without being charged with robbing either of the fighters. Ultimately, it was Baumgardner who walked out of the ring with a split decision win and numerous junior lightweight titles in her possession.
There was a bit of intrigue leading up to the main event. The 12-0 Shields had only tasted defeat once in her career, and that was as an amateur against, you guessed it, Marshall. Now the 12-0 Marshall was hoping to best Shields for a second time, and take the undisputed middleweight championship with her. It wasn’t meant to be, but that didn’t mean Marshall didn’t put on quite a show. She did. She just wasn’t enough for the fighter Shields has become. And so, in the end, Shields was granted the unanimous decision win. The American star succeeded in becoming an undisputed champion against Marshall – but she certainly had to work for it.
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