Shannon Courtenay Loses WBA Bantam Title on the Scales, Jamie Mitchell Wins it in the Ring

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Shannon Courtenay and Jamie Mitchell celebrate after the WBA World Bantamweight title fight between Shannon Courtenay and Jamie Mitchell at M&S Bank Arena on October 09, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

“I plan on making it a dark and devastating night for her,” vowed Jamie ‘The Miracle’ Mitchell prior to Saturday’s showdown with WBA bantamweight titleholder Shannon Courtenay. “Halloween is twenty-two days after my fight, so I’m going to make sure Shannon doesn’t need any makeup.”

Finally getting to make the maiden defense of her belt, won by outslugging Ebanie Bridges back in April, the defending champion retorted, “We both hit hard, but my toughness will come through. I can adapt to whatever Jamie brings. Mark my words, the world title is staying in England.” Ultimately, both the scales and Jamie Mitchell would have the final say in the matter.

Courtenay was originally scheduled for a July rematch with Rachel Ball, who had dropped and defeated her during last summer’s Matchroom Fight Camp series. It also should have been Ball—and not Ebanie Bridges—to vie for the vacant WBA bantamweight strap against Courtenay, but she had to pull out of both fights due to having contracted Covid and needing sufficient time to contend with its lasting after-effects.

Entering the picture soon after was 6-0-2 Jamie Mitchell, last seen scoring a TKO victory over Noemi Bosques on the undercard of the ‘Super Women’ PPV event headlined by Claressa Shields in March, and a title fight was marked on the calendar for August 14. This time it was Shannon Courtenay who backed out, having sustained an injury during training.

Both women have overcome great adversity to get to where they are. Courtenay’s troubled adolescence involved battles with obesity and binge drinking, while Mitchell was orphaned as an infant, given up by her drug-addicted mother, and suffered myriad agonies at the hands of a heartless foster family.

As hard as she worked to attain world championship status, Shannon Courtenay relinquished it just as easily. Two pounds over the bantamweight limit at Friday’s weigh-in, Courtenay was granted a two-hour window in which to shed the excess. She declined the opportunity and surrendered her belt. Shannon later claimed to have been on target to make weight but was undermined by the unexpected start of her menstrual cycle.

Not wanting to have traveled all the way to Liverpool for nothing, Mitchell conceded the weight differential and was game to go on with the show, the now vacant title available only to her. With her long left jab, Mitchell backed Courtenay into the turnbuckles where the champion attempted to tie up by cupping her left glove behind Jamie’s neck. Mitchell broke free by clipping Courtenay with three rapid-fire shots thrown with her free left hand. The moment Shannon’s grip was relaxed, Mitchell quickly shot a right uppercut through her lowered guard and connected cleanly.

Courtenay took it well and fought her way out of the corner, but Mitchell stayed with her every step of the way and soon had her trapped in the exact same spot with a pair of jabs which set up a straight right that sent Shannon reeling backward. Mitchell went to the body with a right hand and came back upstairs with it a moment after. Again Courtenay punched herself out of the trap, and again Mitchell walked her down. For every counterpunch she was able to sneak in, Courtenay was eating at least three or four shots as Mitchell exhibited that she was not at all gun shy.

Appearing more determined at the onset of round two, Shannon stalked after Mitchell, but couldn’t seem to muster up very much in the way of offense once she got within range due to the fact that Jamie continually beat her to the punch. Furthermore, Mitchell was evading and blocking the majority of Courtenay’s blows thanks to her speed and agility, making the champion miss badly on multiple occasions throughout the early going.

This remained consistent throughout the first half of the fight, with Mitchell repeatedly bullying Courtenay against the ropes and letting her hands go. Scoring to both the body and head in such circumstances, the challenger racked up what seemed to be a comfortable lead with the final five rounds still to be contested. By this time, a hematoma developed above Courtenay’s left eye and continued to swell significantly. Despite the fact that Mitchell leaves herself vulnerable to a right hook by virtue of a tendency to hold her left-hand low before flicking out a jab and after dropping it back down afterward, Courtenay was unable to capitalize on this stylistic flaw. Not until the final minute of round eight, that is.

Courtenay was at long last able to find a home for a pair of rights that staggered Mitchell and forced her to uncharacteristically initiate a clinch. After moving her opponent across the ring, Shannon popped Mitchell with a lead left and immediately drove a hard right into Jamie’s cheekbone. Had the punch landed squarely on the jaw, the fight might have been over at that point. Mitchell rode out the storm and recovered nicely, getting in a few shots of her own despite primarily being in survival mode. Sensing the momentum shifting in her direction, the champion tauntingly beckoned Mitchell to stand and trade at the center of the ring.

There was evidently little left on Courtenay’s punches as the two stood toe to toe in the waning moments of the tenth and final round. Mitchell, as she had done for the majority of the bout, got the better of the exchanges. A title switch seemed to be imminent but, left in the hands of the judges, was not exactly a sure bet. Indeed, Jesus Morata Garcia somehow scored the fight 95 apiece. Howard Foster and Yordan Ezekiev, however, ensured that the correct arm was raised by awarding the fight to Jamie Mitchell by particularly narrow tallies of 97-93 and 96-94, respectively.

“She said she was going to take me into deep waters and I swam like an Olympian,” boasted the new WBA bantamweight world champion. “A belt doesn’t make me,” Mitchell admitted, “but it shows you guys who I am.”

Jamie Mitchell is living proof that miracles do happen.

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