ATLANTIC CITY – Ivana Habazin credited Claressa Shields for her decisive victory Friday night.
The Croatian contender didn’t make any excuses for her lopsided loss, either. She just wasn’t impressed by Shields’ power.
“Well, she doesn’t have power,” Habazin said during a post-fight press conference. “She’s constantly [punching] and that’s actually why she’s winning. From all fighters [that] I fought, the biggest puncher of all of them was Cecilia Braekhus.”
Braekhus beat Habazin rather easily, too, in their 10-round fight for the Colombian-born, Norwegian-bred champion’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO welterweight titles in September 2014. The 38-year-old, unbeaten Braekhus has just nine knockouts in 36 professional fights, only a slightly higher knockout ratio than Shields (10-0, 2 KOs).
Shields predicted she would knock out Habazin inside of six rounds when they fought for the vacant WBC and WBO 154-pound titles at Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall. It looked like Shields might deliver on that promise when she made Habazin take a knee after landing two body shots in the sixth round.
When Habazin got up, there still were 44 seconds to go in the sixth round, plenty of time for Shields to finish her. Shields tried to capitalize on that momentum, but Habazin survived and made it to the seventh round.
“I need to give her credit for a liver shot,” Habazin said. “I think that even she didn’t realize that she hit me. It was the first [body] shot, but I still keep moving. After [the] second shot, I knew that I needed to stop and take a break because maybe they will stop the fight and I didn’t want to quit. So, I tried my best, you know? It was like my brain want to do something, but my body didn’t. But there is no excuses.”
Shields couldn’t hurt her again in any of the final three rounds and Habazin (20-4, 7 KOs) made it to the final bell. It marked a sixth straight fight in which Shields has gone the 10-round distance.
The 24-year-old Shields has been criticized for not scoring more knockouts, but the Flint, Michigan, native did dominate Habazin.
Only one judge, Lynne Carter, scored a single round for Habazin (99-89). The two other judges, Debra Barnes (100-90) and Robin Taylor (100-89), scored each of the 10 rounds for Shields.
Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the undisputed middleweight champion, became the fastest fighter in boxing history to win world titles in three weight classes. Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Japan’s Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9 KOs) each had accomplished that feat in their 12th professional fights.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.