Claressa Shields talks about winning the WBC super middleweight title. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — It wasn’t quite as quick as she thought, nor as easy, but Claressa Shields will take a win either way.
Especially when it comes with a title belt.
Shields won the WBC Silver super middleweight championship on Friday night at the Masonic Temple, dropping Sydney LeBlanc in a unanimous decision.
For Shields (3-0, 2 knockouts), it’s just another step on the road to what she hopes are bigger and better things, but it might have been a bit more difficult than she anticipated. LeBlanc (4-2-1) lasted all eight rounds, absorbing several crushing blows at the end of several rounds, never succumbing to Shields’ unrelenting speed and power.
“I wanted to get the knockout but I knew I was in shape to go all eight and look good all eight. I did a really good job,” said Shields, 22. “The main thing is not just about winning, but looking good and winning.
“I’ve been getting compliments of people saying they didn’t know I knew how to box and I had good combinations. Usually, I can go out there and get it over with and TKO them. I feel good.”
LeBlanc, 33, was a replacement for the original opponent, Mery Rancier, who had visa difficulties and was pulled from the fight card.
In the first round, LeBlanc looked to be in trouble, ducking into a corner and taking a flurry of punches from Shields. But she emerged and lasted through the round — and for the rest of the fight, which didn’t come as a surprise to Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“I wasn’t surprised because the announcer said she used to be an IBF heavyweight champion. When girls come down from bigger weight classes to smaller weight classes, they usually can take a lot more,” Shields said. “When I was hitting her as soon as the first round started, she knew what she could take and she knew she was strong.
“She knew she could take a punch. I landed a lot of clean shots and I thought maybe the fight should have been called, but she stood there and took it all and lasted.”
LeBlanc sustained more damage from Shields’ combinations and Shields continued to attack following the 10-second warning of most rounds, in case the judges had seen the round as close.
Few were, as each of the three judges favored Shields.
Friday’s win sets the stage for trying to build toward another title.
“The next fight, we’re trying to get the super middleweight champ, Nikki Adler, who is 16-0 with 9 knockouts,” Shields said. “I want to take her out here in Detroit. As soon as she signs the contract, we can make that fight happen.”
The tentative date for that potential fight is August 4 in Detroit.
“I want to train to knock her out because you have to knock out a champ to win the belt,” she said.
In other fights on the undercard:
■Kronk’s Alexey Zubov (15-1) defeated Demetrius Banks (9-1) by unanimous decision.
■Ja’Rico O’Quinn (7-0) beat David Martino (2-3) by unanimous decision.
■Bakhtiyar Eyubov (13-0, 11 KOs) scored a first-round knockout over Cesar Soriano (27-36-1).
■Antonio Urista (8-2) defeated Serdar Hudayberdiyev (3-1) by unanimous decision.
■Dimash Niyazov (11-0-3) beat Ramon Guevara (10-25-2) in a fifth-round knockout.
■Kronk’s Jacob Bonas (3-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Tony Brooks (1-2) in the third round.
■Darren Gibbs (1-2) knocked out Scott McCurdy (0-1) just 30 seconds into the first round.