By Mark Elezaj
Copper Box Arena, London – In a fight for the vacant female WBA bantamweight title, both Shannon Courtenay (7-1, 3 KOs) and Ebanie Bridges (5-1,2 KOs) left it all in the ring for ten rounds, with Courtenay securing a unanimous decision victory with scores of 97-94, 98-92 and 98-92.
The Fighting Voice had it 97-94 for Courtenay.
Prior to the fight, Bridges and Courtenay had created a huge buzz around their title bout after Courtenay accused her opponent of “degrading” the sport.
“I’m a fighter, not a lingerie model,” Courtenay said on Wednesday.
“This is a world title fight. Have some respect for the game.
“You’ve got people like Katie Taylor who has worked her arse off for years to allow women like me to be in this position – through hard work and dedication she’s managed to get women’s boxing where it is – and you want to disrespect it and degrade the sport by talking about your weigh-in outfit and lingerie?
“Have some respect and some decorum for boxing.”
From the opening bell, while working off of her jab, Bridges looked to take control of the action early but Courtenay was able to quickly counter with sharp right hands of her own.
The action continued in the second round, with Bridges coming out early with pressure working off of the double jab, while walking Courtenay down and landing strong uppercuts. As the round came to a close, Courtenay had a cut above her left ear, while “The Blonde Bomber” continued to put on the pressure.
In the third, Courtenay would find a home for her counter left hooks while Bridges continued to push the action and walk her down.
Both warriors stood in the center of the ring and went toe to toe in the fourth, but it was Courtenay who appeared to be getting the best of it ahead with her cleaner punches, better movement and light footwork.
In the fifth, Courtenay landed a huge right hook on the chin of Bridges that buckled her legs, causing her to hold on. Bridges left eye began to swell, but she was able to make it out of the round.
In the sixth round, Bridges came out and continued to push forward, letting her hands go. Courtenay stood her ground and continued to land counter punches. Both women gave as good as they received, landing strong shots in their exchanges.
The action in the seventh round was heated with Bridges coming back into the fight with a good strong round. Both women traded leather, with Bridges landing two left hooks and a right hand over the top that won her the round.
Both fighters continued to go after each other during the eighth and ninth round with no let up in the action. Courtenay began to put on the pressure on an exhausted Bridges, who then caught Courtenay with a left hook at the bell.
The tenth and final round brought the best out of both women. They dug deep and left it all in the ring for the final two minutes of the fight.
The final bell sounded, the judges scores were read and Shannon Courtenay was crowned the new WBA Bantamweight champion.
“Amazing. I don’t want to cry. Amazing,” said Courtenay. “I feel like my jab won me the fight to be honest. My conditioning, my attrition, all of the hard work. My two coaches Charlie and H kill me on a daily basis. They kill me in the gym. I hate them for it, but it bloody paid off. My nice jab, my fitness and my conditioning won me that fight.
“I have to give credit to her because that was a bloody good fight. She was tougher than I thought she’d be. I knew if I stuck to my boxing I’d win. I had to keep listening to Charlie – he kept saying, ‘box, box, box’. When I was getting into a war it was stupid of me. The jab won me the fight.
“There was respect before I got in the ring because anybody that gets in the ring deserves respect. I now have more respect for her. When it was a shootout that was my own stupidity. I’ve come a long way. I’ve said it all week. Tonight is proof that anyone can turn their life around.
“I’m a different person to who I was back then. I’m a world champion baby! I’m wearing this belt everywhere. This is such a proud moment for me. This is such a good example to young girls that you can turn your life around. I can’t put it into words.”
~ The Fighting Voice ~