Watford boxer Shannon Courtenay has become WBA world bantamweight champion by beating Ebanie Bridges.
The Babyface Assassin fought on after getting a cut to the side of her head in the early stages of the bout to pick up a unanimous points decision after ten rounds.
In what was a terrific advert for women’s boxing, Courtenay and Bridges went the distance, but the Australian ran out of steam in the final two rounds after putting up a good fight, allowing the Watford fighter to finish strongly and seal the victory with a strong ninth round in which she made the most of a swelling to her opponent’s left eye.
The score cards read 97-94, 98-92 and 98-92 in favour of the now world champion, who screamed with joy as she was declared the victor.
Speaking after the fight, Courtenay said: “I cant put it into words – unbelievable.
“We worked so hard and for someone who has genuinely turned her life around it shows people can achieve anything.
“I boxed nicer, I had the cuter shots. I kept throwing the jab out. My jab won me the fight, you could see that from her eye.”
The win is the realisation of a dream for Courtenay who turned pro back in January 2019 after quitting her job as a chef.
Shortly after becoming a professional, she told the Watford Observer: “When any boxer puts on a pair of gloves, they want to become world champion. That’s any boxer’s dream and that is my dream and I do genuinely believe I am going to be a world champion.”
Since then she has had a tough journey to the top and suffered a setback when she picked up a first defeat at the hands of Rachel Ball in her sixth fight.
However, she recovered well and knocked out Dorota Norek just four months later to get back on track.
The fight against Bridges was originally due to be a rematch against Ball, but Covid-19 ruled out the reunion and the 27-year-old had to adapt to a new opponent at short notice.
Her win looked in jeopardy early on when the Blonde Bomber caught Courtenay with some good shots, including a couple of big uppercuts and another shot to the side of her head that drew blood.
But Courtenay responded well and shook Bridges with a big right hook in the fifth before closing her left eye with some consistently effective jabs throughout.
Ahead of the final round, Bridges told her corner, “I can’t see out my left eye” before she bravely finished the fight.
Nevertheless, Courtenay simply had too much and handed Bridges her first professional defeat to claim the title.