FLINT, Mich. — Danielle Perkins bounced around the ring with the movement and skill of a multisport athlete, which makes sense, as she used to play college basketball at St. John’s.
In the fifth round of her heavyweight fight against Monika Harrison — on the Claressa Shields-Marie-Eve Dicaire all-women’s pay-per-view event Friday night at the Dort Financial Center in Flint — she showed why. Perkins thoroughly outperformed Harrison (2-2, 1 KO), hitting her like a punching bag throughout the fight on her way to winning the WBC silver heavyweight title by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 80-72, giving every round to Perkins.
Although it was not a perfect performance for Perkins (3-0, 1 KO), who started slowly, she always had control of the fight.
Perkins, who is from Houston, continually displayed the body movement necessary to avoid power punches from Harrison, who hails from Waycross, Georgia. Harrison was swinging wildly — and often missing — in the second half of the fight. By the seventh round, Harrison could barely hit Perkins, whose movement improved round by round.
The one big shot Harrison landed was the last one as the bell rang in the final round — but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to beat Perkins.
It’s the second time in three pro fights Perkins fought — and beat — Harrison. After the fight, Perkins apologized for not getting the knockout.
Jamie Mitchell had the power, and for five rounds she chased Noemi Bosques all over the ring, putting it on display. Mitchell pummeled Bosques until the referee waved the fight off at 1:49 in the fifth, earning Mitchell a technical knockout.
Bosques (12-16-3, 2 KOs) really had no shot throughout the fight. She couldn’t handle the speed and power from Mitchell (6-0-2, 4 KOs), who has four knockouts to her name but also has yet to fight an opponent with a winning record. Bosques, from St. Petersburg, Florida, hasn’t won a fight since September 2019.
“I was just doing whatever fit the moment,” Mitchell said after the fight. She said that’s what led to the knockout, and she thanked Claressa Shields for putting her on this undercard.
It was the third TKO in the past five fights for Mitchell, from Pacific Grove, California.
Marlen Esparza won a unanimous decision (60-54, 60-53, 60-53) over Shelly Barnett in the bantamweight opener of the pay-per-view telecast.
From the opening minute, Esparza (9-1, 1 KO) made it clear who was the more dominant and experienced fighter. Almost every punch she threw had a second or third one behind it, and even though Esparza didn’t knock down Barnett (4-4-2), Esparza held the clear edge.
Esparza, who is from Houston, seemed relaxed throughout the fight, dancing in her corner between rounds and putting her feet up on the ropes of the ring while she received instructions from her corner. She said after the fight that she had to put her feet up on the ropes because the stool was too tall for her.
Barnett, meanwhile, was in a tough spot. She took the fight on eight days’ notice and had lost three straight bouts coming into the fight. Her last win was in 2018 against Alisah McPhee.
Esparza became much more active in the third round, taking control of the fight. She used Friday night’s bout to prepare for a fight in April against Ibeth Zamora for the WBC flyweight world title. By the fourth round, Barnett was barely fighting back. Esparza landed hook after hook in the fifth round, making Barnett’s ability to stay up surprising.
Like Barnett, Esparza took the fight on short notice. But with this performance, it’s clear that she used it to sharpen her skills ahead of a much bigger fight to come.