By Keith Idec
Claressa Shields dominated Tori Nelson on Friday night, but she didn’t get the knockout she sought.
Shields instead out-boxed her 41-year-old opponent for 10 rounds on her way to defending her two women’s super middleweight championships. The undefeated Shields (5-0, 2 KOs) won by large margins on all three scorecards to win a unanimous decision in the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” broadcast from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
All three judges – Glenn Feldman, John McKaie and Don Trella – scored each of the 10 rounds for Shields (100-90).
The two-time Olympic gold medalist made the first defenses of the IBF and WBC 168-pound titles she won in her previous fight. Nelson, of Ashburn, Virginia, lost for the first time as a professional (17-1-3, 2 KOs).
Nelson displayed toughness throughout the bout, but little in terms of skill as a patient, poised Shields picked her apart to the head and body.
“I think she wasn’t a walkover, but I did say I was better skilled and that I was stronger,” Shields said. “She definitely did what I thought she was gonna do, be aggressive, try to pin me against the ropes. She did her game plan, but I just did more.”
Shields, 22, defeated an unbeaten opponent with at least four times as much professional experience for a second straight bout. She won her titles by stopping Nikki Adler (16-1, 9 KOs) in the fifth round of her previous fight, August 4 at MGM Grand Detroit.
Shields tried her best to get a knockout in the 10th round, but wasn’t able to hurt Nelson with any of her punches.
Nelson backed Shields into the ropes and had some success in the seventh round, only to have Shields come back and connect with power punches toward the end of that two-minute period. Shields got full extension on a right hand to Nelson’s jaw in that sequence, but Nelson took it well.
Shields continued to land against Nelson during the sixth round, but couldn’t hurt her older, slower opponent.
An assertive Shields went after Nelson to begin the fifth round, but Nelson took her power well. Shields drilled Nelson with a flush right hand to the jaw when there were about 25 seconds to go in the fifth.
Shields started the fourth round strong by letting her hands go and landing combinations. Nelson pressed forward, but her wide shots enabled Shields to counter with accurate, straight shots down the middle.
Shields snapped back Nelson’s head with a left hook late in the second round.
The fight didn’t begin the way Shields thought it would. She expected an aggressive Nelson to attack her, but both boxers fought tactically during the first round.
Shields is expected to move down from 168 pounds to 160 for her next fight, probably sometime in April. The Flint, Michigan, native wants to challenge WBC/WBO middleweight champ Christina Hammer in the fight after that.
Germany’s Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs, 1 NC) was supposed to fight on the undercard Friday night, but watched the action from ringside. Hammer told Showtime’s Steve Farhood during a pre-fight interview that she expects to fight on Shields’ undercard in April and hopes to defend her titles against Shields in her following fight if they both win.
“As far as fighting me, I think she’s pretty scared, to be honest,” Shields said. “She didn’t even show up here to fight. She was supposed to have fought today, on the undercard. She don’t want me to see her. She’s more worried about me than I am about her. And I’m gonna kick Hammer’s ass."
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.