Australia’s Ebanie Bridges has fallen short in her bid to win the vacant WBA Women’s Bantamweight championship, losing a unanimous decision (97-94, 98-92 x 2) to Britain’s Shannon Courtenay in an action packed bout in London this morning.
The bout got off to a fiery start before a punch was even thrown, as Courtenay took exception to Bridges’ choice to wear lingerie during the weigh-ins.
“I want the correct eyes watching the fight for the correct reasons – for the fact that we are women’s boxers”, Courtenay told Adam Smith of Matchroom Boxing’s Face Off.
A fast-paced opening round saw Bridges control the centre of the ring, but it was Courtenay, however that landed the harder punches, at stages with her back to the ropes. The next three rounds followed a similar trend.
Despite pressing forward and shifting her focus to the uppercut, Bridges was peppered with three and four punch combinations that ended in hooks that landed to the head.
The barrage continued into the fifth round and with 30 seconds to go, Courtenay landed the biggest punch of the fight – a right hand that buckled the legs of Bridges and caused her to stumble to the neutral corner.
Undeterred by her opponent’s success, Bridges rallied in action packed sixth and seventh rounds, again finding success with the uppercut and throwing solid body punches.
With every ounce of energy expended, the heart of both fighters grew tenfold, personified by the many combinations thrown. By the time of the ninth round, both fighters began to show signs of fatigue. Their white singlets now bleached a salmon pink by blood.
It would be Shannon Courtenay that would find another gear though, throwing and landing a disproportionate amount of punches compared to Bridges as she targeted a left eye that was now completely swollen shut.
With her vision impaired, the incredibly brave 34 year old Australian continued to press forward, but it was to no avail. A composed Courtenay showed supreme footwork across the final two minutes, moving laterally to avoid any attack thrown her way.
A jubilant new champion struggled to hide the emotions after achieving her dream.
“I can’t put it into words. Unbelievable”, Courtenay told Sky Sports in the post fight interview.
“To be someone who has genuinely turned their life around, this is proof that anyone can achieve anything.”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was full of praise for both fighters after an incredible display of heart, skill and determination.
“It was brilliant from start to finish. They both wanted it so, so bad”, Hearn told Sky Sports.
“A great advert for women’s boxing.”