Women's unified middleweight champion, Claressa Shields was originally scheduled to have a showdown with the undefeated Christina Hammer this fall. But that fight was scrapped, as Hammer fell ill and pulled out of the bout.
But the 23-year-old Shields (7-0, 2 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was able to add to her collection of belts by shutting out Hannah Rankin (5-3, 1KO) over 10 rounds. No knockdowns were scored in this fight, but from the very onset it was Shields who dominated with her technical skills and physical prowess.
With her latest victory she captured the vacant WBC female middleweight title to go along with her WBA and IBF belts.
"I had all my energy and exploded when I needed to," said Shields. "We did work on that in camp, we worked on placing my shots. I had some good body shots and head shots. We have been working on that for 11 weeks in camp. I'm happy with my performance. I need to watch my performance and give myself a grade. I give myself a B+ for now."
But she did laud her opponent.
"Absolutely she was tough, and her skill set was tough. I'm further apart than most woman. I respect her for accepting the challenge. Christina Hammer is going to take it worse than that," said Shields, who never lacks for confidence in her own skills.
"I knew she was going to be tough," said Shields. "[I] saw her against Alicia Napoleon [a unanimous decision loss in August]. At this level, everyone is tough, this is world championship boxing. No one is going to lay down."
The question moving forward is just who does Shields -- who came in at 159.5 pounds for this fight -- face next who is of any magnitude? She understands she might have to move down in weight.
Shields is willing to move down a weight class: "154 -- 147 I'll look like a stick. My nutritionist is great. Wasn't a day I starved in camp. Last time, there were a couple days I did. I'm the greatest woman of all time. When you can get a woman who can beat me, you can take that away."
"Bam Bam" Rios returns with TKO victory
Many question if Brandon Rios should still be boxing, but he showed that he still has some fight left in him by stopping Ramon Alvarez in nine bruising rounds. Rios ( 35-4-1, 24 KOs), a native of Garden City who was making his homecoming in Kansas, started out slow and sluggish in the early stages of the fight, but as he got lathered up, he put on a steady beating on Alvarez, the brother of middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez.
Rios, 31, displayed his trademark tenacity from the second round on and just steadily beat down Alvarez (27-7-3, 16 KOs) with a barrage of overhand rights and left hooks to the body. There wasn't much boxing going on in there, which suited the hard scrabble Rios just fine. Alvarez, who was the naturally bigger boxer, fought much of this bout off the ropes and paid the price for it. While he competed gamely throughout, he was simply overwhelmed by the nonstop, two-fisted attack of Rios.
At the end of Round 8, a series of right hands stunned Alvarez. Rios was able to continue his attack on a fading Alvarez at the beginning of the ninth, causing referee Thomas Taylor to wave off the fight.
Rios, who weighed in for this contest at 151.4 pounds, made it clear that in the future, he will be back at welterweight.
"I felt the heaviness, and I'm not used to it," said Rios. "I had to get used to the heaviness of him after the first round. I'm used to 147 not 151. We're warriors, and we came to fight."
Rios, who recently signed a new deal with promoter Eddie Hearn and DAZN, said he's ready for his next fight.
"I got my next fight with Eddie, and [I'm] excited for it," said Rios. "If you want to put me in the next title shot, I'm there."
Rosado, Arias fight to a split draw
While there was a lot of fire and brimstone between middleweights Luis Arias and Gabriel Rosado -- including a $10,000 wager between the two -- nothing was really settled after 12 closely contested rounds, as neither man was ever truly able to seize control of this bout. And with a possible title shot on the line against WBO belt-holder Demetrius Andrade, it looks as though they might have to do it again.
Arias (18-1-1, 9 KOs), and Rosado (24-11-1, 14 KOs), had to settle for a split draw as the dust settled at the Kansas Star Arena by the scores of 116-112 ( for Arias), 116-112 (for Rosado) and 114-114.
The early rounds were tactical with the 28-year-old Arias coming forward and landing right hands to the body and exhibiting superior hand speed. But he was never able to truly hurt Rosado, 32, who has been in the ring with the likes of Gennady Golovkin, David Lemieux and Jermell Charlo, among many other well-known names. Late in the fight Rosado came on and stunned Arias in the ninth round.
Arias, who was cut by a clash of heads in the final round seemed to fade at the end, but he was able to make it to the final bell. While both boxers firmly believed they deserved to have their hands raised in victory, neither really ever firmly stated his case.
Flyweight Nico Hernandez (6-0, 4 KOs), 22, remained undefeated by out-pointing southpaw Josus Morales (8-8-3, 0 KOs), 25, who despite his rather unimpressive record was a solid opponent for the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.
Hernandez, who hails from nearby Wichita, was forced to go the eight-round distance for the first time in his career.
"It went good, just how I imagined it," said Hernandez about the fight. "Tried to fight smart and came out victorious."
In what was an eventful light heavyweight bout, Emanuel Thompson (8-0, 5 KO), 30, remained undefeated by scoring a six-round unanimous decision over the game, Leroy Jones (3-5, 2 KO), 27, by the scores of 59-54 (twice) and 57-55. Thompson was actually knocked down in the opening round, but he was the sharper fighter throughout, and by the end of the night, he had bruised and bloodied Jones in the process. A double-knockdown was missed by referee Kevin Champion in the second round, and Thompson was hit by low blows a few times. Also, there were several instances where Jones spat out his mouthpiece and was nearly deducted a point for doing so.
Anthony Sims (17-0, 16 KO), 23, a smooth boxing super middleweight (that weighed in at 170.5 pounds for this bout), whose moniker is "The Magician" made the 32-year-old Colby Coulter (13-13, 10 KO) disappear quickly by scoring a second-round knockout of the squat southpaw from nearby St. Joseph, Missouri. Sims scored a knockdown of Coulter in the first and two more early on in the second frame, and then the fight was waved off 40 seconds into the round.
Young middleweight prospect, Nikita Abibay (2-0, 2 KO), 20, made quick work of Javier Rodriguez (3-7-1, 2 KO), 40, by scoring the second first-round stoppage of his young career. He sent Rodriguez to the canvas early on in the bout with a right hand and then a short time later, he scored another knockdown. At that point, this one-sided contest was waved off at 1:48 of Round 1.
The night in Kansas kicked off with middleweight Jeremy Nichols (9-1-1, 3 KO), 28, who floored the overmatched Jeremiah Page (3-6, 2 KO), 25, four times in the first round to score a quick stoppage victory. The southpaw from Las Vegas was simply too fast and too skilled for Page from the very onset and was able to strike him at will with various combinations; the finishing punch was a straight left that sent Page to the canvas for the fourth and final time.
Afterward, Nichols -- who weighed in at 115.4 pounds for this contest -- stated his intention to move back down to welterweight.