Claressa Shields jumped up and down in the ring, having gone to the United Kingdom to fight a British fighter and still come out of the toughest bout of her career as the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.
Shields beat Savannah Marshall by unanimous decision (97-93, 96-94, 96-94) in London on Saturday to become the undisputed middleweight champion for the second time after holding all four belts in 2019 and 2020 as well.
By beating Marshall, Shields also made up for the only loss of her career in boxing -- Marshall defeated her as an amateur a decade ago in a fight Shields believed she won -- and in doing so established herself as arguably the best woman boxer ever.
"It's not just a special moment for me, it's a special moment for women's boxing," Shields said in a postfight interview in the ring. "Savannah Marshall, Alycia Baumgardner, Mikaela Mayer, Caroline Dubois. I mean, women's boxing has been around for so many years and so many great stuff happened before us.
"But here we are, in front of 20,000 fans in London at O2 Arena, and I think that's fight of the year. I'm just so happy and it's an unbelievable moment right now."
Shields dominated the first part of the fight, coming out with an aggressive strategy along with the technical defense she's been known for her entire career to keep Marshall's power at bay. Often throughout the fight, Shields leaned on the ropes, potentially as a strategy to try to tire Marshall out a little.
It seemed like Shields also found a good middle ground to work out of, perhaps as a way to negate some of the power Marshall possessed.
Shields landed more punches than Marshall in seven of the 10 rounds and landed significantly more power punches in the first half of the fight. Marshall, who rallied throughout the second half, began to land more power punches in the fifth round.
Shields' 35 power punches landed in the first two rounds were more than Marshall had landed against her in any complete fight of her career, according to Compubox.
Shields landed 36.4% of her punches (175 of 480) compared to 34.3% for Marshall (136 of 397). Marshall landed a higher percentage of power punches (43.1% to 40.4%) but Shields landed more power punches overall (131 to 122).
"She's a tough competitor. She's a hard puncher. She has endurance," Shields said. "But I'm the better fighter 10 years later."
Shields (13-0, 1 KO) said she could not see out of her right eye in the final five rounds due to Marshall's power -- and it was in the final five rounds where Marshall (12-1, 10 KO) seemed to close the distance.
Shields believed she was hit by a hard shot from Marshall in each round, but that she also countered and won the fight by working more inside.
"Claressa is a brilliant fighter," Marshall said in a postfight interview in the ring. "She definitely is. She's not as fast as I thought she was but she's a brilliant fighter and she's definitely earned the title of greatest woman of all time."
The 27-year-old from Flint, Michigan, said she would like to fight again in the United Kingdom -- but did mention she would hope she wouldn't be booed the next time like she was continuously against Marshall, a resident of Macclesfield, England. Shields played into the theme of the United States fighter, including wearing shorts and gloves with the pattern of the American flag on them and dancing to Yung Wun's "Tear It Up" at the top of the platform of her walk out to the ring.
Shields said there was a rematch clause in the contract if there was a controversial decision, but Shields won a unanimous decision. She didn't rule out fighting Marshall again in the United States if fans wanted it.
The fight headlined an all-women card that also had the junior lightweight unification fight between IBF and WBO champion Mikaela Mayer and WBC titlist Alycia Baumgardner as the co-feature.
After months of trash-talking between the two, Baumgardner won a split decision to win all three belts, beating Mayer 93-97, 96-95, 96-95. It was a close fight that could have gone either way as neither fighter took complete control.
It was a slow start in the fight for Mayer as Baumgardner took control in the early rounds. Mayer settled down in the fourth round and rebounded, but almost every round in the back half was incredibly close.
In one of the more pivotal moments, Baumgardner cut Mayer in the seventh round after what felt like three straight rounds of Mayer being the aggressor.
Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KO), who resides in Detroit, landed 110 of 324 punches (34%) with Mayer landing 100 of 349 (29%). Mayer, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, landed a higher percentage of jabs (27% to 25%) while also throwing 100 more jabs than Baumgardner (227 to 127). Mayer landed 61 jabs, Baumgardner 32.
"I think I landed the cleaner shots," Baumgardner said in the postfight interview. "The harder shots."
In doing so, she became the unified champion of the world. After the fight, she said she was not interested in a rematch with the 32-year-old Mayer (17-1, 5 KO), instead hoping to pursue the undisputed championship against WBA champion Hyun-Mi Choi.