Claressa Shields looked at home in the boxing ring Saturday in Cardiff, Wales.
The two-time Olympic champion, who was away from the sport while she started a second career in mixed martial arts, outclassed Ema Kozin to win a shutout decision in defense of her middleweight titles on the Chris Eubank Jr.-Liam Williams card at Motorpoint Arena.
The plan for Shields (12-0, 2 KOs) is to face amateur rival Savannah Marshall next, assuming Marshall defeats Femke Hermans on March 12.
Shields outboxed and outworked her willing, but overmatched Slovenian opponent from the beginning of the 10-round bout on Saturday. And she was an elusive target, which made Kozin’s mission all but impossible.
Shields picked up her work rate in the middle rounds, when she began to land more and more power punches. Her body work was particularly impressive.
Claressa Shields celebrated her victory over Ema Kozin. Huw Fairclough / Getty Images
However, the tough Kozin (21-1-1, 11 KOs) was able to withstand the punishment and survive to hear the final bell, which was the 23-year-old’s only accomplishment.
The scoring reflected what happened in the ring: All three judges had the same score, 10-90 for Shields, 10 rounds to none. Boxing Junkie also gave Shields every round.
Shields’ only regret was her inability to get a knockout.
“I thought there were plenty of moments where the ref should’ve stopped it,” she said. “I hurt her a whole lot. She’s going to feel it when she goes home. And I won every single round. So that’s good for me.
“,.. I give myself an A-. The only thing I didn’t do was get the damn knockout.”
The victory is expected to set up a showdown with Marshall, the only fighter to defeat Shield’s in a boxing ring. The Briton outpointed Sheilds in the 2012 World Championships.
Marshall watched the Shields-Kozin fight from ringside, where both were interviewed after the fight.
The local woman was asked to assess Shields’ performance against Kozin and wasn’t diplomatic, saying, “If you fight like against me I’ll absolutely wipe the floor with you.”
Shields responded by putting down her collection of belts and getting into Marshall’s face.
“You couldn’t wipe my drawers,” she said. “You hear me? You can’t do s— with me. … I ain’t no punk. That’s why I’m here. You didn’t come to America, I came here.”
They then started to yell over one another before their teams led them away, presumably until they meet again at a news conference to kick off the Shields-Marshall promotion.