Despite stepping up on late notice and stealing headlines for non-boxing reasons in the lead-up, Australian Ebanie Bridges was more than game on Sunday (AEDT) against Brit Shannon Courtenay.
Bridges donned lingerie at the weigh-in, but was happy to get stuck in inside the ropes as she ultimately fell short in her shot at the vacant WBA bantamweight belt in the United Kingdom.
A left eye swollen shut was ultimately too much to overcome for Bridges who was very much in the fight until late. Courtenay took the belt via unanimous decision (97-94, 98-92 x 2).
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Bridges, in just her sixth professional fight, was wobbled in the fifth, survived an onslaught in the ninth and came back out in the tenth despite telling her corner she couldn’t see out of that battered eye.
The 34-year-old Bridges (5-1) stayed on the front foot throughout, pushing a pace that maybe Courtenay (7-1), 27, didn’t quite expect from her less-fancied foe.
Bridges worked nicely on the inside with her uppercut, while Courtenay moved around well on the back foot behind her jab and straight right.
“Big respect to Ebanie Bridges,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn said after the fight. “Tough, tough, terrible eye injury.
“Great advert for women’s boxing because we know it’s had a massive build-up — probably the biggest build-up I’ve been involved with in a female fight — but if it doesn’t deliver, it’s no good for anyone. And it was brilliant from start to finish.”