Cecilia Braekhus, Claressa Shields and Lulu Win in L.A.
By David A. Avila
LOS ANGELES-A farewell show by boxing network HBO also showcased two dominant women in the boxing world as Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields mowed through their respective opponents with little resistance on Saturday.
Braekhus (35-0, 9 KOs) tried hard to put another knockout on her ledger but Aleksandra Lopes-Magdziak showed enough resistance to go the distance in front of a sparse and cold crowd numbering less than 1,000 at the StubHub Center.
The Norwegian fighter Braekhus won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds and retains her hold on the undisputed welterweight championship that includes the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles.
Braekhus started slowly and patiently in the first two rounds but was able to rifle right hands and left hooks through the slower Lopes guard. But she never could put that finishing touch.
In the fifth round a counter right cross staggered Lopes but she remained upright though hurt visibly by Braekhus. A follow up attack proved unsuccessful by the welterweight champion.
“I wanted to knock out the girl who also beat Kali Reis,” said Braekhus “I might have pushed it too much. I got a little bit eager. That normally shouldn’t happen but this is a historical night.”
It was the final show of HBO’s 45 year reign as one of boxing’s premier networks.
“I’m just so honored to be on HBO,” said Braekhus
In less than a month Claressa Shields (8-0, 2 KOs) wiped out another middleweight contender this time Belgium’s Femke Hermans (9-2, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 one-side rounds.
Three weeks ago Shields had dominated Scotland’s Hannah Rankin in similar fashion and had few problems with either European fighter. But sitting front row in the audience was Christina Hammer who holds the WBO version. She will be next.
Shields powered through Hermans with her amped up aggressive style and was especially effective with the check left hook. She also rocked the Belgian fighter with over hand rights but could not drop the European fighter who holds a super middleweight world title.
Hermans learned in the first two rounds she couldn’t match the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s speed, so she settled into a defensive counter punching style. It did not work.
Though Shields tried luring the European fighter into some traps, the Belgian boxer refused to lead. The fight was Shields to take. She began pummeling the body especially in the fourth and fifth rounds. In one volley she unloaded seven consecutive body shots and easily slipped a counter right.
Shields wobbled Hermans in the ninth round with a left hook and staggered her with a pair of shots in the 10th round. But the Belgian fighter stayed on her feet. All three judges scored the fight 100-90 for Shields who retains the WBA, WBC and IBF world titles.
Now Shields is set to face Hammer who has the WBO middleweight title in the early spring. Showtime will televise.
Hammer spoke to the media before the Shields-Hermans fight.
“I move around very well I have better movement,” said Hammer whose fight with Shields was postponed in November due to a stomach illness suffered by the tall German boxer. “I want to be the undisputed world champion.”
Australia’s Louisa “Bang Bang” Hawton (9-2, 3 KOs) stopped Lorraine Villalobos (2-2-1) of Los Angeles at the end of fifth round in an atomweight fight set for 10 rounds.
Hawton and Villalobos exchanged furiously for three rounds with each connecting with big blows. But by the fourth round Villalobos slowed considerably and Hawton took over the fight.
The Aussie fighter was supposed to meet interim WBC atomweight titlist Brenda Flores who won a split decision last September. But Flores was forced to pull out.
In attendance was Layla McCarter, Naoko Fujioka, Christina Hammer, Cyborg, Maricela Cornejo, Daisy Lang and Halle Berry.
(All photos by Al Applerose)