Claressa Shields wins dominant decision over Christina Hammer.
By Jeff Jowett at ringside
It seems like women’s boxing never really took off as it may have after Ali-Frazier IV. But when the sign at a sports bar outside Philly says cryptically “Shields Hammer," maybe it has. Promoter Dmitry Salita (Salita Prom’ns), having reportedly shifted base of operations from the brutally expensive NY to Michigan, ran the women’s middleweight unification championship at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Convention Hall on 4/13/19. The card was held in the smaller upstairs arena, not the cavernous main floor, before a full house that Salita estimated at 3000.
In the top bout, Claressa Shields, 159 ½, Flint, 9-0 (2), defended her universal (WBA, WBC, IBF) women’s middleweight crown against WBO titlist Christina Hammer, 159, Dortmund, GER, 24-1 (11), in a lively but one-sided 10. After Hammer took the first with size and reach, it was all Shields. By the second, Claressa had the range and stepped smartly inside the tall challenger’s long reach to constantly plague her with straight, sharp punches. In the first exchange of round two, Shields jolted her with a counter left hook. Later in the two-minute round, solid rights had Hammer circling away. In the third, Shields stalked, slipped Christina’s punches and countered. Hammer stayed at long distance, but it didn’t seem to help.
Her long punches tended to fall harmlessly or loop around Shields’ shoulders. In the fourth, Hammer tried pinning her by clamping one arm but still got hit with the free hand until referee Sparkle Lee cautioned Christina, apparently for holding. Action was brisk throughout, but crested in the eighth. Shields hammered Hammer along the ropes, knocking out her mouthpiece.
Christina pointed down as she extricated herself, but Lee didn’t immediately get the message and action continued hot for several seconds before the mouthpiece pause was called. Claressa than tagged a series of solid rights as action escalated to the bell, with the crowd up. The last third remained hard fought but a bit anticlimactic, as Hammer was never able to get a sustained offense while Claressa’s slick moves and sharp hands retained control. All scores (Lynne Carter, Robin Taylor, Guido Cavalieri) 98-92 Shields.
“I was just calculating in the first round and after that I started picking her apart,” Shields declared. “I am the greatest woman of all time.” Presumably she meant greatest woman boxer. At least she can properly wear the title “champion” and not just split title holder as are nearly all the others.
Another women’s contest was conducted for the vacant IBF featherweight title. Brenda Karen Carbajal, 124 ½, San Salvador de Jujuy, Arg., 16-4-1 (9), won the belt in a brisk contest over Elena Gradinar, 124 ¼, St. Petersburg, Russia, 9-1 (2), 10. The flat-footed southpaw Russian plodded forward and was game throughout but Carbajal’s left was too sharp and controlled the contest. Gradinar rightly tried to turn the contest into more roughhouse in the fourth, but Carbajal answered effectively. By the fifth, the Russian was switch-hitting, changing stance right to left, but still being outscored as Brenda Karen brought the right into play against her. Elena again tried in the seventh to make it a brawl, but walked into a right and wobbled back. She recomposed herself and got gamely back into the fight. Again, action continued to the final bell, but Gradinar was unable to turn it. Lawrence Layton scored 96-94, Debra [sic] Barnes and Ron McNair 97-93. David Franciosi refereed.
Jermaine Franklin, 245 ¼, Saginaw, 18-0 (13), and Rydell Booker, 238 ¾, Detroit, 25-2 (12), started out with good, sharp exchanging in close rounds but degenerated into a mauler as the bulky and out-of-shape Booker faded to lose the unanimous decision, 10. After losing his mouthpiece in the second, Franklin fired up a two-handed rally to the bell that may have stolen an otherwise close round. Booker was still in the contest as it remained tight through the third. Franklin lost his mouthpiece again in the fourth, but rallied late with some good rights. Jermaine appeared to be taking control in the fifth as Rydell seemed fading. But after an exchange in mid round, the tiring battlers began to put on a mauler that would last for the rest of the contest, broken by sporadic outbursts. Booker was just flopping his bulk onto Franklin in the seventh, but late in the round, pushed Jermaine to the ropes and threw some short inside shots that somehow got the crowd up. That was about the last promising action, as the two mauled the rest of the way. Booker showed some effective defense for so large a target by falling away from Franklin’s punches, but just didn’t get going with any payback. Jimmy Kinney scored 99-91, Allen Rubenstein and Eugene (Henry) Grant both 98-92. Earl Brown refereed.
A scheduled 10 between Otto Wallin, 227 ¼, Sundsvall, SWE, 25-0-0-1 (13), and Nick Kisner, 221, Balto., 21-4-1-1 (6), proved a huge disappointment when Kisner suffered a cut right eye in the first and was unable to come out for round two. Although he lacks one-punch power, the switch-hitting Kisner is savvy and can prove a challenge. The southpaw Wallin may have been finding that out already, as he angrily tossed the clinching Kisner to the canvas and drew boos. Ref Franciosi interrupted the contest at that point and Nick reported to ringside doctors that he couldn’t see out of the cut eye. The bout was declared No Decision. “To me, his cut didn’t look that bad,” stated a disappointed Wallin.
A cannon of a right lead by Samuel Peter, 259, LV, 37-7 (30), had Mario Heredia, 275, MX City, 16-6-1 (13), flopping on the canvas like a landed flounder early in the third. But Heredia miraculously regained his feet, fell down again under pressure but no knockdown, and Peter couldn’t finish him. The underdog still looked like he was finished a round later when he missed a punch and fell to the canvas, no knockdown. But now it was round five, Mario was still there and the contest was becoming a grind in a rugged, bruising, slo-mo huff-&-puffer. Heredia landed some crude clobber shots and was in the fight. Peter had one volley in the sixth, in which Heredia lost his mouthpiece for the third time. By the eighth, both were exhausted and throwing arm punches, and the last two proved nothing except that they were still trying. It seemed no surprise that Rubenstein scored 79-72 for Peter. But the others evidently gave the underdog points for effort, with Grant 77-74 and Kinney 76-75 for a split decision going to Heredia! Brown refereed.
Touted Ja’Rico O’Quinn, 115 ½, Detroit, 12-0 (8), wasn’t all that impressive despite a unanimous shutout of Vicente Alfaro Martinez, 115 ¼, MX City and fighting out of the western folklore town of Northfield, MN (site of a Jesse James raid), 9-5 (3), in a fast paced eight. O’Quinn drove Martinez around the ring with a sharp jab in the early rounds but missed with payoff punches despite a heightened effort to finish it in the fifth. Having survived that, Martinez got into the fight in the sixth by becoming more aggressive and had O’Quinn trying southpaw. Action continued lively to the finish but still the contest had more misses than clean shots.
Shifty Marcus Bates, 122 ½, Wash., DC, 9-1-1 (8), won a TKO over Jesse Angel Hernandez, 122 ¾, Ft Worth, 12-3 (7), when Hernandez was unable to come out for round four of eight. Hernandez was the aggressor, but tall, standup and wooden. Bates circled and dodged, popping punches at random. A sneak right stung Hernandez late in the first. Jesse tried to up the pressure and corral Bates in a close second, but a sharp counter right stung Hernandez late in the round and may have stolen it for Bates. In the third, Jesse’s face was covered with blood and the doctors terminated the bout at the end of the round. Ricky Gonzalez refereed.
In the opening six, the only local boxer on the show, Isiah Seldon, 158, Somers Pt, 13-2-1 (4), came off the floor from a left hook in the first but otherwise routed awkward and wild swinging Bryan Goldsby, 154 ¾, Macon, GA, 5-10. Seldon fell back to a neutral corner when Goldsby launched a wild attack in the first and took a knee when the underdog brought up a left hook. But a round later, Goldsby was retreating and a couple clobber rights had him hanging on desperately in the fourth before he got a breather from a low blow. The underdog merely survived the last two and Seldon got the unanimous decision, all 59-55. Gonzalez refereed.