Before great female fighters such as Ann Wolfe and Laila Ali took the boxing world by storm, Christy Martin helped place it on the map.
Martin recently sat down with Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Boxinginsider.com, to discuss her induction into the boxing hall of fame. She also gave her opinion on Claressa Shields and what a showdown against Laila Ali would have looked like.
The career of a female boxer has never been known for its longevity. With both Ali and Wolfe’s career lasting nine years, Martin found a way to stick around the sport of boxing for 23 years. Throughout much of the 1990s and the early 2000s Martin was the face of women’s boxing.
The ridiculous amount of hard work that she put in has paid off as she will be inducted into the boxing hall of fame later this year.
It may have seemed like a no brainer decision for everyone else looking on the outside but Martin was left speechless when she heard the news.
“I remember being the Grand Marshall for the boxing hall of fame induction weekend back in 1996,” said Martin on Boxing Insider radio. “Just to be around all of those legends it was great. Never could I have imagined that I would be inducted into the boxing hall of fame. It’s a dream come true.”
Martin may have did all of the hard work inside of the ring, but her soon to be hall of fame career wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for her promoter, Don King.
“I was just really lucky to get Don King involved in my career. So I got the chance to fight on the undercard of Mike Tyson numerous times. Fighting in Vegas and Madison Square Garden. I got exposure like no other female fighter had ever gotten. I honestly think that Don King is the world’s greatest promoter. He bought a lot of excitement to boxing and he made every fight an event. I remember fighting on those pay-per-view shows and he had world champion 12 round fights on the undercard that didn’t even make tv time. He was great at what he did.”
Times have changed. Having a championship fight on the non-televised portion of a card today would simply never happen. Hell, it’s difficult just getting one in the co main event.
When we take a look at the resume of Martin, it resembles someone’s idea of a cruel sick joke as she fought a murderous row of competition. Martin ducked no one in her fighting career and it shows on her resume. It’s the very reason why she managed to get a spot in the hall of fame. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been seven years since anyone has last seen her in the ring.
At age 51, she still looks like she can compete in the ring right now, but don’t count on it. With the sort of fighters she’s fought, Martin’s name isn’t mentioned nearly as much as it should in the discussion of who was the greatest woman of all time (G.W.O.A.T).
At the moment, the G.W.O.A.T title has been seemingly taken away by Claressa Shields. Her claim to that lofty status isn’t without merit. Not only does Shields have two gold medals but she also has world titles in three different weight classes. Yet, none of those accomplishments mean anything to Martin as she considers Shields claim to the mantle a tenuous one.
“My momma told me a long time ago that if you don’t have something good to say about somebody or something you shouldn’t say anything. Claressa Shields has accomplished great things as an amateur fighter. To get the honor to go to the Olympics is awesome. Of course that is something that wasn’t even available to the ones that came before her.”
If you ever took the time to sit down and watch a male boxer speak during a press conference, you’ll notice just how brash, cocky and maybe even board line delusional they can come across at times. Females on the other hand, are usually much more reserved.
Not Shields. She’s a great fighter, and she knows it, but she wants to keep reminding the world just how great she is.
That penchant for trash talk and giving herself all the praise in the world might bring in high ratings whenever she fights, but it doesn’t sit well with Martin.
“I think that she is young but she has great marketing people around her. I don’t know why they haven’t sat her down and told her that she needs to pay a little more respect for the people that came before you. Had it not been for them, your road would not have been so easy. You probably would not have been given the opportunity to even box, had these women not come before you.”
Cast aside the brashness of Shields and just view her as a talent. Simply put, she’s one of the very best that women’s boxing has ever seen. But much like every other great fighter in their respective sports, they are always compared to those that came before them.
In the case of Shields, her comparison partner has always been and always will be, Laila Ali. So just like any other comparison, the question becomes, who would win between the two?
If anyone can give a sound judgement on how a fight between Shields and Ali would play out had they fought in their primes, it would be Martin. She did after all lose via stoppage to Ali back in 2003. When asked the question, Martin didn’t hold back with her response.
“Laila would bust her ass. It is what it is,” said Martin. “Claressa Shields doesn’t fight coming forward and she can’t fight going backwards. She wants to cry about needing to fight three minute rounds so that she can knock girls out but I knocked out 31 girls in two minute rounds so I don’t understand why it takes so long, if you’re going to get it done, then get it done.”
While the opinion of Martin is respected, Shields has never been the type to hold her tongue for anyone. So it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she responds.
By: Hans Themistode
It’s always frowned upon when a person brags and boast about themselves.
Let everyone else speak of your greatness while you remain humble.
Not everyone believes in this way of thinking. Boxers such as Floyd Mayweather Jr and Muhammad Ali spent the majority of their careers telling any and everyone who would listen that they are the very best.
A number of boxers have soon followed suit. Claiming that they are the next best thing but have often fallen short of their lofty claims. It isn’t easy to gloat of your talent while backing it up each and every time.
One fighter who has recently followed in the footsteps of those with overwhelming confidence has decided to take things to another level.
Claressa Shields has just officially entered her name in the record books. This past Friday night on January 10th, at Ocean Resort Casino, in Atlantic City, Shields made it look easy in defeating former champion Ivana Habazin via unanimous decision. In the process of picking up the win, Shields brung home the vacant WBC and WBO Jr Middleweight world titles.
The newly won gold that currently occupies the space around Shields waist, also came with the distinction of becoming the fastest fighter regardless of gender to win world titles in three different weight divisions.
The accomplishments of Shields seem almost spurious. Three division world champion in only ten fights, 77 wins in the amateurs against only a single defeat and two Olympic gold medals.
Thanks to her many achievements, Shields has been given the crown by most as the greatest female boxer of all-time, and certainly the best of this generation. Although the achievements of Shields are constantly celebrated, her aforementioned crown as the best female boxer in the world is often times taken off and replaced with a black hat.
In the sport of women’s boxing, the fighters are great, but they conduct themselves in a humble manner. Not Shields. She is a firm student of the Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr school of trash talking. Much like her two predecessors, she backs up every word that she says.
“I think Ivana cant take a piece of humble pie and go back to Croatia,” said Shields during her post fight press conference against Ivana Habazin. “Hopefully on her next try she will become a world champion against somebody else but like I said I am the great woman of all time cause she couldn’t do nothing with me. Zero.”
Shields has the look and feel of a once in a lifetime sort of fighter, but she still has a long list of competitors in front of her. Elio Cederroos and most notably Cecilia Braekhus lead the charge in terms of women who would be best suited to take her own next.
For now, Shields will not only enjoy this victory but she will also continue to let the world know with both her fighting ability in the ring and her mouth outside of it, just how great she truly is.
By Robert Aaron Contreras
Jeered as much as she is cheered, Claressa Shields is putting women’s boxing on the map. But the lead-up to her next championship fight has seen her reputation slip into infamy.
Shields (9-0, 2 KO) will presumably (fingers crossed) meet Ivana Habazin (20-3, 7 KO) on Jan. 10, from Atlantic City, after two previously-scheduled dates in 2019 were scrapped. First, Shields came down with an injury in training camp, cancelling their initial fight in August. Earlier in the year, she had unified all four major middleweight titles with a wide decision over Christina Hammer. Holding one belt herself, Hammer was Shields’ biggest test to date. So when the dust settled, the undefeated champion was out of challengers. It called for new terrain. So Shields opted to move down in weight to 154 pounds.
When injury struck, Habazin wasn’t buying it. Making her stateside debut by way of Croatia, Habazin speculated Shields, who turned professional at super middleweight, was having trouble cutting weight. Resentment grew between the opposing camps heading into their subsequent booking in early October. On the day of the weigh-ins, a verbal altercation erupted between James Ali Bashir, who is Habazin’s head trainer, and Shields’ sister. Then Ali was blindsided by Shield’s brother then rushed to the hospital and the fight was again called off.
In the aftermath Shields came off unapologetic on an impromptu live stream. Seemingly more concerned with the fight falling through, perhaps even the missing paycheck, rather than Ali’s health, social media tore into her. That Shields would find herself in the crosshairs of online trolls was not surprising—given her penchant for replying, blocking, and flying into a tizzy, just the attention anonymous boxing accounts crave. But the tension and disparagement will go through the roof when boxing fans find reason for self-serious moralizing. Which was just the case when Shields’ own brother was convicted of striking Ali, fracturing the face of the 71-year-old coach.
Shields alleviated herself by reasoning her brother wasn’t technically on the payroll. She felt no culpability. And if she didn’t put the hit out, then she shouldn’t. But communicated so matter-of-factly was bound to miss the mark.
Perhaps Shields will find solace on Friday despite the ring’s violent nature. Fighting a gloved opponent and not character accusations. After all her resume faces little scrutiny. A win on Friday would make her the fastest three-divisional champion in history. The noted “triple crown” was first accomplished by Bob Fitzsimmons back in 1903, securing the record after over 80 fights. This weekend Shields enters her 10th pro bout.
Only 24, Shields has become the face of women’s boxing in America. Following the previous decade and the success of the UFC’s Ronda Rousey, Shields is at the forefront of a sociopolitical push to equal its male counterpart. Across the pond, promoter Eddie Hearn has gone all in on Katie Taylor, a standout Olympian herself, and a two-weight world champion. Welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, is well considered the most talented female boxer on the planet. Mostly competing in Europe, HBO put Braekhus on center stage last year, headlining their final boxing card.
Habazin, in 2015, challenged Braekhus. But never stood a chance. Shields’ massive -8000 odds suggests Habazin doesn’t here either. Especially considering she fought the bulk of her career at 147 pounds, and at 154 pounds hasn’t battled anybody worthy of note. Her last opponent entered the ring with a .500 record. Before that? Three more nondescript opponents, with records as poor as 5-5 and 0-3 (respectively?).
Shields should take care of business, officially positioning her one division above Braekhus, boxing’s “First Lady,” and that much closer a superfight to decide the figurehead of the sport.
Jaron Ennis on tap
Ennis, 22, was due for action in support of Shields and her Michigan debut before the event imploded. He went on to front the bill himself and crushed Argentinian Demian Fernandez.
Friday, against Bakhtiyar Eyubov, will represent the first fight of the year for Ennis. No surprise given the Showtime broadcast will be the first major boxing card of 2020. It was routine last year, going 2-0, punching in two knockouts. Before pelting down Fernandez, Ennis was on ShoBox. There, crushing Bolivian veteran Franklin Mamani. Not a worldbeater, to be sure, the Mamani had been stopped twice before (including in three rounds by Dejan Zlaticanin) but never as quickly as Ennis did. The Pennsylvania prospect ended his man’s night in one round.
Eyubov, 33, has never been stopped. But he has been defeated. In fact, after opening his pro career with 13 straight victories, he went winless through 2019: drawing with the unheralded Jose Luis Rodriguez, a Mexican gatekeeper continually fed to upcoming lightweights; then outboxed by blue-chip prospect Brian Ceballo.
Ennis has quite the reputation, punching with more never than his tall frame would suggest. Standing above just about any recognizable welterweight, save for perhaps Maurice Hooker and Ray Robinson, both who lack the snapping punches Ennis possesses, he is lethal. And should mow over Eyubov.
By: Hans Themistode
The argument for who is the greatest male boxer of all-time is a difficult discussion.
Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and even the recently retired Floyd Mayweather all have a claim to the throne as the best to ever do it.
Although receiving a consensus answer is nearly impossible, on the women’s side, the argument has become obsolete.
Two division world champion Claressa Shields has already established herself as quite possibly the best female fighter of all-time. During a recent interview with Boxing Insider which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on Boxinginsider.com, Shields was given the floor to discuss her feelings about many topics in the sport of boxing including Anthony Joshua’s near shutout win over Andy Ruiz Jr and the growth of women’s boxing today.
A few weeks have passed since the biggest fight of the year has taken place. Anthony Joshua did what many were unsure he could actually pull off, and that is reclaim his Heavyweight titles from the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr, in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year on June 1st, Joshua was surprisingly stopped in the seventh round of the contest in Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Due to the nature of his one sided beating, many believed that Joshua was stylistically a bad matchup for Ruiz.
With just one loss to his name, he was essentially left for dead. It was a mistake that Claressa Shields believes happens far too often in the sport of boxing.
“You can’t write off a fighter because they lost one time,” said Shields to Boxing Insider Radio. “He was getting his Muhammad Ali on. He’s not as fast as Muhammad Ali but he was jabbing the mess out of Ruiz. He was shining on him.”
The performance by Joshua on the night was a more tactical one rather than his typical brute force. Those who saw him coast to an easy decision victory were critical of the once again champion. Did he play it safe and opt for a more conservative approach? Absolutely. But don’t you dare claim that he was scared in anyway, shape or form.
“He didn’t fight scared. A person that is fighting scared, they don’t even have the time to land clean punches and he cut Ruiz. He knew for a fact that he couldn’t beat Ruiz on the inside. He tried that in June in New York and we seen what happened. He got caught. It’s not because Ruiz is a big puncher, he’s not a knockout it’s because Andy Ruiz is a great inside fighter, Joshua is not. People wanted to see a war but he fought a smart fight.”
The critics of not just Joshua, but fighters in general have always shown to be of vagarious nature. Giving the fans what they want to see is of the utmost importance to every fighter, but just how plausible is that notion? The ongoing needle movement in every fan is one that can drive a fighter crazy. For Shields, at this point, their opinion is becoming extraneous at best.
“Just last month everybody was giving Deontay Wilder shit for knocking Luis Ortiz out with one punch but then, they say he’s got no skill, he’s just a knockout artist. But then now you get the opposite end. Anthony Joshua out boxes this man for not three or four rounds but for twelve. He used skill, style and great technique but people are still giving him shit. You can never please a boxing fan. Some of these fans have never put on no gloves or boxed or nothing in their lives and they have the nerve to disrespect a world champion. We’re putting our lives on the line.”
Disrespect should never be tolerated, but there is always a reasoning behind it. Fans had long grown accustomed to Joshua putting away his opponents in devastating fashion. This new version of Joshua where he will seemingly get on his bike for a full 12 rounds and coast to a decision is not what the fans want out of their Heavyweight champions.
Another complaint for fans across the world are the persistent installations of new world titles. It can become mind numbing with the amount of belts that are currently up for grabs. Add Shields to those who aren’t the biggest fans of so many new titles as well.
“There’s just too many belts. From what I hear you can’t even lose that Franchise belt. If you lose a fight and you’re still the WBC Franchise champion, like what the hell? I never heard anything like that in my life.”
Halloween candy isn’t passed around nearly as often as these aforementioned belts. It isn’t just on the male side of boxing either. Constant title fights in the women’s division has become the norm as well. Although it can certainly become confusing, women’s boxing has come a long way from where it once was.
Forget about the overflow of titles that are seemingly wrapped around a fighters waist before they even step foot inside of the ring for the first time in their career, but pay attention to the names of the fighters that are currently anchoring arguably the strongest pool of talent that the women have ever dished out.
If you believe Shields is not leading this group of women because she only has nine fights, then you haven’t been paying attention. She is the only American, whether male or female to win two Olympic gold medals and will look to capture yet another world title in her third weight division in only her tenth professional contest come January 10th, 2020 when she takes on Ivana Habazin.
“There’s a lot of great fighters. Katie Taylor being one. Amanda Serrano, myself we got some up and coming fighters as well. There’s a lot of good women in the sport right now who are all doing a good job carrying the sport.”
Bringing women’s boxing to the forefront isn’t impossible, but it certainly won’t be easy. Women are already playing at a disadvantage. For starters, the pay gap between men and women are ridiculous. For as accomplished as Shields is, she has failed to make at least half a million dollars for any one contest in her entire career.
We all know the issues, but what about the solutions? Shields has a few. For starters, women currently fight two minute rounds as opposed to the three minutes that are afforded to men. Shields has long been interested in changing the time frame. Her campaign for this adjustment finally achieved what she had been looking for as both Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza fought their last contest in three minute rounds. The bout ended early due to a cut, but regardless, it was a step in the right direction. At least, according the Shields.
“I thought it was a great fight and it had a great build up. A lot of fans ringside were satisfied. A lot of fans after we go ten two minute rounds, they say oh that’s it? They wanna see more. They actually enjoyed the fight and you can see the damage that was being done with the three minute rounds. I either wanna do twelve two minute rounds or ten three minute rounds. I’m comfortable with either or.”
The addition of one extra minute per round may not seem like a big deal to the casual fans, but it certainly isn’t something that promoter Lou Di Bella would like to see implemented. You can also add WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to this list as well. It isn’t because they want women’s boxing matches to be over as quickly as possible but it’s more so about the safety and health of women boxers around the world.
“Women are more susceptible to head injury and concussion than men are,” said Di Bella. “It’s just a fact.”
The ongoing fight for an increase in the rounds in which women are currently fighting might seem like a losing battle for Shields, but she has much more on her plate to focus on than simply how long her contest will last.
No one is expecting Shields to have a difficult time with Hazabin when the two enter the ring with one another on January 10th.Shields may not be looking past her opponent but she does have her eyes on the entire landscape of women’s boxing and who could possibly be next for her.
Not many would be anxious for a crack at Shields, but not everyone is Alicia Napoleon. The current WBA Super Middleweight champion is one of the few who not only has the skills but also the physicality to match up with Shields. If everything goes according to plan and these women face off with one another, fans might want to sit back, relax and enjoy this one.
“She’s definitely a future opponent. But which weight class? 168 or 160? And are we going to have all the belts up for grabs or just mines? When it comes to this sport we have to make certain people feel comfortable to make certain fights made and I just think that it’s always bullshit that I gotta put my belts up and people get to hold their belts to the side.”
A matchup between Shields and Napoleon would be a fight of the year candidate. Shields willingness to move either up or down in her career to take on the best fighters is what she has built her career on. For the two time gold medalist, she has no problem stepping into just about any division to take on a perceived great fighter. She also apparently has no issue leaving the sport of boxing entirely to prove it either.
Shields might be dominating the sport of boxing, but one can make the argument that she hasn’t been nearly as dominating as MMA star Amanda Nunes. The mixed martial artist currently holds two titles simultaneously and has dominated everyone that has come across her path. Her last ring appearance saw her put an absolute beating on Germaine de Randamie in Las Vegas, Nevada this past weekend.
In attendance on the night, was Shields.
No she wasn’t there to enjoy a night of MMA fights. And she certainly wasn’t in Vegas to catch a magic show either. No, her trip to the event was strictly business.
“I would love to get a super fight with Amanda Nunes. People say that she box better than me but there is no way in hell. People get so caught up in MMA and feel like since she knocked out Cris Cyborg and me and Cris Cyborg sparred that she could do the same thing to me. If Amanda Nunes wants to come to the ring I would show her that she’s good but I’m great.”
Interesting? Yes, competitive? No. If you took the time to juxtapose both women, there is no way you could come to the conclusion that a boxing match between the two would be even remotely competitive. Those who believe so are simply giving a spurious statement.
Grudge matches between boxers and MMA fighters have long been the norm, but one arena is usually chosen. Either the two combatants will fight each other in the Octagon or the boxing ring. For Shields however, she wants them both.
“I want to fight her in a boxing match. I even want to fight her in an MMA match. I’ve done some wrestling and worked on some kicks but I’m going to get serious about it after my next fight. I have a meeting with Dana White so it should go very well and I’ll know what we’re looking forward too for 2020.”
Shields interest and quest to becoming the greatest women fighter of all-time has become one that many of us has become invested in. With two gold medals, multiple world titles and more seemingly on the way, Shields has already had herself an impressive career. At just 24 years of age, it’s safe to say that things are only just beginning for Claressa Shields.
“God has already showed me what he has in store for me. He’s going to do for me what he did for Serena Williams but in a different form. There sleeping on me, but I’ll give it not even all next year and I’m going to be on that platform where you have to pay for interviews and you have to go through ten people to get to me. People just don’t understand what greatness is. Greatness isn’t something you just say, it’s something that is inside of you.”
By: Hans Themistode
Women’s boxing has always been placed on the back burner of the sport. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t gain the sort of traction or attention that it’s male contemporary.
Two division champion and self proclaimed greatest female fighter of all time, Claressa Shields, has done her part in changing the perception that is surrounding women’s boxing. It isn’t just that she has captured two Olympic gold medals. Nor is it because through nine professional contests she has already won world titles in two different divisions. Although those reasons play a part in it, the reasoning behind her fame and notoriety is because of her otherworldly skill level.
On the tenth of January in 2020, Shields will look to add another world title in yet another weight class when she takes on Ivana Habazin.
Hyping up this contest as a 50/50 matchup would be an easy task, but it also wouldn’t be truthful. No one is expecting Shields to struggle with Habazin.
As for who she could be taking on next once she dispatches of Habazin, your guess is as good as mine. The cabinet is extremely bare in women’s boxing. Because of the lack of competition, Shields has began to grow a liking to the world of mixed martial arts. She has even began training for a possible debut in the sport.
Never one to pass up on an opportunity, UFC President Dana White has expressed major interest in matching up Shields with the greatest women’s fighter the UFC has ever seen. Amanda Nunes.
The aforementioned Nunes has a scheduled contest this Saturday night on December 14th, against Germaine de Randamie.
Sitting front row to check out her possible future opponent will be none other than Claressa Shields.
“Claressa Shields is coming,” said White. “She’ll be here Saturday to watch the fight. She’s coming to watch the fight, and I will be honest with you, Claressa Shields’ people and I have talked. I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ve talked. I know they’re both interested in it, too. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out. We have a lot of respect for her, too, and she’s going to come to the fight and should be fun.”
The two star fighters from different combat worlds have expressed a great level of interest in making the contest happen and it should come to the surprise of no one that they both believe that they would annihilate the other if the contest took place in their respective sport.
“If she wants to see me then come to my world,” said Nunes. “We can take a girl from a low ranking right now and put her against Shields and Shields won’t make it past the first round. I’m not a boxer. I’m an MMA fighter. If I wanted to be a boxer then I would’ve been. I respect boxing a lot but its not my world. If she stepped into the cage with me she would stand no chance. Her leg would be done because I would kick her all day. If she makes it past the first round then I would like to see if she can make it through the whole fight.”
Nunes would hold a significant advantage in the cage, but what if the tables were turned and she entered the world of Shields?
“In boxing I would put Amanda Nunes to sleep,” said Shields.
Dreaming and fantasizing about this contest shouldn’t be done just yet. There are too many variables that must take place first. Both women have upcoming contests that they both must get past. Furthermore, if a contest were to materialize, where would it take place? A cage or the ring?
There are too many questions right now and few to no answers. With that being said however, one thing is for sure, if Dana White truly wants this fight to happen, then he’ll get it done.
By: Hans Themistode
For the third and hopefully last time, Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin are officially set to share the ring with one another on January 10th, 2020 at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The two were originally supposed to settle their feud on August 17th, at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Michigan. However, during Shields training camp, she dislocated her right knee and was forced to withdraw from the contest. The bout was quickly rescheduled for October 5th, in the same exact arena.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, that contest was once again postponed, but this time for other reasons.
A day before the contest was set to take place, the trainer of Habazin, 68 year old James Ali Bashir, was attacked by the brother of Shields, Artis Mack. Bashir was immediately rushed to the hospital due to serious facial injuries.
Upon his release, he would then suffer from a brain bleed due to the attacks and be forced to once again return to the hospital for further treatment. Mack was eventually arrested and is now looking at serious charges because of his actions.
With the non stop merry go round of drama between everyone involved, it is great to see that these two fighters will finally get the chance to settle their differences inside the ring. The drama that has ensued has pushed Habazin to a whole new level of motivation.
“I’ve been thinking about this since October and I have more of an incentive now given what happened,” said Habazin. “I feel like I’m fighting for James Ali Bashir, as well as for my own pride and respect. I’m also fighting for my country. I want to make Croatia proud that I am their daughter, and I feel that I now have their full support. Claressa is just a brief stop on my journey. I have bigger dreams and bigger shoes to fill in my life. I’m on my way to fulfilling my personal legend — being crowned the undisputed women’s junior middleweight champion. This is just another step on that journey. Given my faith, I feel that while what happened in October was incredibly unfortunate, this was God’s plan. And I have faith that my hand will be raised in victory in January.”
The motivation will certainly be at an all-time high for Habazin, but Shields won’t be lacking in that department either.
“My goal is to become three-division champ faster than any man or woman in history,” Shields said. “This is a very significant fight for both of us. We have both trained really hard twice and great opportunities await the winner, so hopefully three times is the charm.”
The making of this contest has been an arduous one. The previous issues that they have had towards one another is extraneous at this point. Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin will look to start off the 2020 boxing calendar with a bang.
By: Sean Crose
In a display off-putting even for the rough and often seedy world of professional boxing, trainer James Ali Bashir was assaulted several weeks ago at the weigh in for the Ivana Habazin-Claressa Shields middleweight title unification fight. After being taken to the hospital that day, Ali Bashir had to return to the hospital several days later after medical professionals became alarmed with the seriousness of his injury. The individual behind the attack was unknown for some time. On Wednesday, however, Artis J Mack was named by Michigan prosecutor Prosecutor David Leyton as the individual responsible.
Mack, who is Shield’s 28 year old brother, pleased not guilty to the charge of “assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder” in Genesee District Court on Thursday. According to Michigan based publication M Live, a police officer caught sight of Mack leaving the Dort Federal Event Center after the incident on October 4th. The officer then reportedly tailed Mack and subsequently arrested him. M Live also reports that “Mack is currently being lodged in the Genesee County Jail on a probation hold stemming from an unrelated second-degree arson charge he pleaded guilty to in 2017.” Should he be convicted of the Ali Bashir charge, Mack can face up to a decade behind bars.
Frank Manley, who is Mack’s attorney, claims that video evidence of the weigh in event of October 4th will shed new light on the scenario. “I’ve seen some of it,” M Live quotes Manley as saying, “and some of the language that I heard … if in fact that was directed at someone, you might very well expect some type of action in return.” Although he didn’t condone the assault, Manley claimed he believes “there’s a lot more to it than maybe has been reported so far.”
For her own part, WBC, WBA, and IBF Female middleweight champion Shields has condemned the attack, stating on social media that “the actions that took place against Coach Ali was not right,” adding that “I do not stand for that and do not in any way justify what happened no matter what he said!” Shields was not in the area of the attack when it took place. Though there was clear friction between Shield’s and Habazin’s camps beforehand, it appears the assault was the act of a single individual acting alone. Needless to say, Shields’ fight with Habazin, which had been scheduled for the following day, and was to be aired live on Showtime, was subsequently called off.
By: Sean Crose
Boxing received another black eye last week when Ivana Habazin trainer James Ali Bashir was punched from behind immediately at the weigh in for Habazin’s scheduled title bout with rising star Claressa Shields. There had been words between the Bashir and someone who may have been from Shield’s camp shortly beforehand, so tensions were running high. Still, the blow sent Bashir to the hospital and shockwaves throughout the boxing world. Saturday’s Habazin-Shields match was canceled, and the action – by a still unidentified assailant – was widely and rightly condemned. Ali Bashir himself was sent to the hospital while photos of the man being wheeled out of the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Michigan told a disturbing tale.
The news went from bad to worse on Tuesday. “Yesterday,” Habazib tweeted, “my coach James Ali Bashir was called by Detroit hospital’s personel and told that he needs to go to the nearest hospital ASAP because he has bleeding in his brain! I feel very bad because of all this thing what happend. My prayers are with him!” Bashir’s sister, also took to Twitter on Tuesday. “My brother, legendary #boxing trainer James Ali Bashir has been rushed back to the hospital due to bleeding in his brain.. Prayers are needed immediately for him!!! This is a nightmare. 🙁 #boxing community he needs all prayers&healing! @AliBashirTeach”
Although no word has yet been given of Bashir’s condition, there’s no denying that a return to the hospital is a frightening development. Although some suspect a person form Shield’s camp was behind Friday’s assault, Shields herself denied the allegation. “I had a chance to talk to coach Bashir Ali today,” Shields tweeted on Monday, “he know I had nothing to do with what happened and I let him know I’m sorry about everything. He said the same and he let it be known he wasn’t upset with me. I’m glad we had a chance to talk and pray he has a speedy recovery.”
Ali Bashir is well known throughout the fight game, not only through his own work as a trainer, but also through his association with the late legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. One of the more notable fighters Ali Bashir has worked with has been former heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko. Ali Bashir was unconscious for more than fifteen minutes after being struck by the still unknown assailant on Friday. Blows to the back of the head are extremely dangerous and, needless to say, are illegal in the sport of boxing.
By: Jesse Donathan
It was amateur hour at Showtimes vacant WBO junior middleweight weigh in Friday as the lack of overall commitment and security from the event’s organizers and staff was on full display for the world to see. “The junior middleweight title fight between Ivana Habazin and Claressa Shields on Saturday has been called off after James Ali Bashir, the veteran trainer for Habazin, was struck by an unidentified person and knocked unconscious at a weigh-in Friday,” writes ESPN.com’s Steve Kim and The Associated Press in their October 4, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Claressa Shields-Ivana Habazin title fight called off after trainer James Ali Bashir attacked during weigh-in.”
According to ESPN, “Video from Friday’s weigh-in showed Bashir earlier involved in a verbal confrontation with an unidentified person during the weigh-in. It is unknown if the person involved is the same person who later attacked Bashir.”
In the aftermath of the violence Friday, Shields would go on to tell FightHype.com that Habazin’s trainer was, “Being real rude and disrespectful, but that, but that still don’t make it right, whatever happened. You know what I mean,” said Shields. “That still don’t make it right. But even during that whole altercation, if y’all see me when I had looked at him, I had told him, I said, ‘It’s not the place to do that,’ I had told him to calm down. Even my uncle, and my boyfriend, pulled him aside and said, ‘Yeah man, just calm down, it ain’t that big,’ and he consistently kept yelling at my sister, ‘Bitch, I’ll show you that you’re a man,’ thats what he kept yelling at my sister, I’m just keeping it real.”
“And my sister, as y’all can see in the video, she’s a stud, but she’s gay,” the women’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist said in FightHype.com’s October 4, 2019 YouTube video titled, “CLARESSA SHIELDS REACTS TO HABAZIN TRAINER GETTING SUCKER-PUNCHED; REVEALS DETAILS LEADING UP TO IT.”
“And he was just like, doing this to her face (Shields mimics the hand gestures), he was like, ‘Bitch, I’ll show you that you a man,’ and he kept saying it over and over and over again. And when I walked off, he was still saying it to her. I whispered to her, ‘Go sit down,’ like stop arguing with him, you know, stop arguing with him,” explained Shields.
“Ain’t nobody from my team hit an old man,” Shields responded to one of the comments during the live chat broadcast. “Ain’t nobody hit an old man, big man, little man, big girl, little girl, its all assault. So, don’t come on here trying to do that, it’s not about that. It’s about, yeah, it’s an assault, period. It don’t matter about if it’s an old man or not. So, its assault, period. But like I said, I didn’t tell nobody in my, uh, “who was with me” to do anything. Like I said, I was worried about me and making sure I can make weight for this spectacular world title fight against Ivana, that’s all I was doing.”
“And like I said, y’all see from that video, when he was laying there, you ain’t see me, so at the end of the day it didn’t have anything to do with me, and like I said, if a girl on my team can hit like that, she needs to be the one boxing and not me. Because if she can hit, uh, a grown man and knock him out and have him on the floor, that’s crazy, look, I’m not doing that and I train all throughout the year.”
“Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson said a male suspect has been arrested in connection with the assault on Ali. Ali allegedly was arguing with a female at the weigh-in and calling her inappropriate names before the punch,” writes ABC12.com. According to the report, Ali suffered multiple facial fractures from the assault though he is expected to make a full recovery. Whether or not the bout will be rescheduled remains to be seen, though the remainder Saturday nights card is expected to continue as scheduled.
By: Hans Themistode
Claressa Shields will be looking to solidify herself as the best female boxer in the world when she takes on Ivana Habazin. The contest is slated to take place this Saturday night on October 5th, in front of Shields hometown crowd of Flint Michigan, at the Dort Federal Center.
This will be Shields first attempt at a world title in her third weight class. Earlier this year she defeated long time champion Christina Hammer to unify Middleweight titles. It was a dominant performance by Shields who made it look easy against an opponent who routinely ran through her competition before being matched up against Shields.
Now that she has conquered two separate weight divisions, she will be looking to do it in a third. This contest was originally supposed to have just the vacant WBO Jr Middleweight world title at stake. Both of these women will have even more to fight for as it was just announced that the vacant WBC belt will be on the line as well.
“The WBC is proud and happy to be part of this herstoric event”, said WBC Women’s Championship Chairman Malte Mueller-Michaelis. “Both Shields and Habazin are outstanding athletes so we are looking forward to an exciting bout.”
Shields isn’t looking to simply pick up a world title. She is also chasing history. With a victory on Saturday night she will become the fastest fighter in history to win world titles in three different weight classes. A record that is currently by pound for pound stalwart Vasiliy Lomachenko. A feat he was able to accomplish in his twelve professional contest.
In order to accomplish this feat, she will have to defeat a formidable opponent in Ivana Habazin. The aforementioned Habazin is a former Middleweight champion and has shared the ring with some of the best boxers in the world today. In 2014, she lost a close decision to the only woman who is considered to be just as talented as Shields in Cecilia Braekhus.
With just 9 fights under her belt, this would seem like a bridge too far to cross for any other fighter, but not for Shields. The two time gold medal winner believes in her skill, and so do the people who she is surrounded by.
“Winning a world title in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history is a once in a lifetime opportunity and accomplishment,” said Shields’ Manager Mark Taffet. “I know Claressa will rise to the occasion, and I’m thrilled both the WBC and WBO belts will be on the line.”
Shields is a special fighter, there is no doubt about it. With the domination she has displayed at both the Super Middleweight and Middleweight divisions, it seems like a safe bet to assume that she will have the same level of success in her new weight class. It won’t be easy on Saturday night but with two belts now up for grabs, Shields will be as motivated as ever.
By: Oliver McManus
The self-styled ‘greatest woman of all time’, Claressa Shields (9-0) returns to her home city of Flint this Saturday for a long awaited homecoming bout. Waiting for her in the ring will be Ivana Habazin (23-3) of Zagreb, Croatia, with the WBO and WBC ‘Diamond’ super welterweight titles on the line.
Shields has been a dominant force in women’s boxing since making the decision to turn professional in 2016: she’s been a world champion since her third fight and became ‘undisputed’ in her most recent. Habazin is somewhat of a stalwart in the European scene, a bit like Shields’ last opponent Christina Hammer, having boxed professionally since 2010. The 29 year old has had limited success at world level with one win (three if you count the IBO) to counter her three losses – against Mikaela Lauren, Eva Bajic and Cecilia Braekhus.
Her confidence is high going into this postponed contest having recently avenged the loss to Bajic and comfortably won the IBO middleweight title. Dropping down to super welterweight suits Habazin well – it is her more natural weight class – but it’s likely she’ll be the smaller fighter on the night with Shields likely to gain more in the rehydration process.
The lure of any potential knockout finish to proceedings should be minimal. Couple that with more methodical approaches from the protagonists and you could be forgiven for labelling this fight an ‘intriguing chess match’, ‘a battle of wills’ or any other such well-worn cliché. It is an approach that has served Shields well, however, with a brash confidence to expose her opponents through sheer technical superiority.
Against Hammer we saw Shields respond to Hammer’s more upright, rangy style by cutting the ring off effectively. The movement of Shields loosened as the fight progressed and that’s when the ‘showman’ or ‘show-woman’ aspect of her boxing came to the fore Hammer began the fight as the instigator looking to disrupt a rhythm but it was Shields who was dominant and that’s the sort of game-plan you’d expect her to take against Habazin.
Not really a ground-shaking opponent to return her home city with but few are really on a palpable level when it comes to Shields. Should be routine but at least is has sentimental value.
The undercard will see Jaron Ennis taking on Demian Daniel Fernandez over the course of a ten round welterweight contest. The unbeaten (23-0) Philadelphian has impressed here at Boxing Insider since making his debut at the age of 18. Now 22 it’s safe to say he’s served his apprenticeship and is looking to creep closer to a world ranking; he’s already got a foot in the WBC’s door via their USNBC Silver title.
No such additional trinket will be on offer for his but on Saturday but Fernandez (12-1) is the ‘interim’ WBO Latino champion so is likely to be a fair gauge of his current ability. Indeed the 30 year old Argentine was particularly impressive against, fellow Argentine, Diego Ramirez last October when he refused to buckle under the planted feet of his compatriot. He ultimately won the contest 96-94 (x2), 97-93 against the man who would go on to defeat, former British champion, Bradley Skeete.
Ennis will look to replicate that aggression of Ramirez, with better results albeit, as he looks to continue his run of 13 early finishes.
A heavyweight co-feature has Jermaine Franklin (19-0) battling Pavel Sour (11-1) in a fight which has potential to throw up ANYTHING. It could be a re-run of Dubois vs Tetteh from the weekend – a clear gulf in levels – or it could result in a thrilling slug fest a la Ibeabuchi-Tua (admittedly hyperbolic but you get the point). Franklin has underwhelmed for a long time now and his progression has significantly stagnated; a split decision against Jerry Forrest in July was particularly painful to watch.
Nonetheless Dmitry Salita perseveres with the 25 year old who continues to promise he’s ‘the next big thing’ whilst offering up little supporting evidence. Sour doesn’t make such bold claims and, by all accounts, the 36 year old is happy with his lot but clearly sees this as an avenue to more testing contest and, importantly, more lucrative purses. The sole blemish on his record was a 1st round knockout loss to the ever-ferocious Filip Hrgovic. Since then he has claimed, and defended, the Czech national title against Vaclav Pejsar and a subsequent defence against Tomas Salek. A puncher, but against untested opposition, his best hope is that Jermaine Franklin well, does yet another ‘Jermaine Franklin’.
The main event looks to provide the main talking point from the show and, certainly, if Claressa Shields has her way it’ll be her cries of “I AM the Greatest Woman of All Time” that ring in our ears as we try to sleep. The party in Flint, Michigan, if she wins will run for some time longer.
By: Oliver McManus
Claressa Shields vs Christina Hammer, the biggest fight in the history of women’s boxing without a shadow of a doubt. No pressure, then. The winner would become only the second female undisputed champion of the world and whilst Shields was the betting favourite, this was a genuine pick’em going into fight night.
Hammer, the WBO middleweight champion, stepped into the ring with a beaming smile on her face in stark contrast to the dead-pan nonchalance, borderline disgust, of Shields. The American, double Olympic champion, was in supreme confidence of adding a fourth governing body’s belt to her collection.
Her German counterpart, however, started off the liverlier fighter. Characteristically fighting tall, Hammer was using her three inch height advantage well and making her jab do the talking. Shields flailed her punches inwards for the opening round, attempting to cut into the body of Hammer but often catching the German on her arms.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
The second round saw Shields looking to start fast and shell-shock Hammer but the 28 year old, a professional for 10 years, remained confident in her gameplan. Rocking on the balls of her feet and working sideways across the ring, Hammer had settled into a rhythm reminiscent of her previous contests.
Shields landed a couple of eye-catching shots, when Hammer was on the move, to signal her aggressive shot selection. A particularly pleasing overhand right, thrown when the American was almost tucked up into the armpit of Hammer, prompted a momentary clinch of recognition. The contest was being fought a good pace, producing an enjoyable fight, and Shields was upping her punch output with each passing round.
Hammer continued with her constant circling of the ring but was struggling to settle into a similar rhythm with the punches, and the pre-fight favourite was able to pick her off with the busier work. Such is the nature of two minute rounds that a well-placed flurry of shots could be enough to claim you a quiet round.
Interestingly as the fight progressed it was the movement of Shields that started to come to the fore, evading the downwards punches of Hammer with a casual duck-and-weave motion. It was smooth to watch the first time, even more glorious in slow-motion. More importantly it showed the different dimensions to the Flint based boxer; Hammer, as good a fighter as she is, was unable to adapt to the varying tactics coming her way.
Having began as the instigator, Hammer quickly struggled to replicate any of that initial impact as she ran firmly into a brick wall. Shields was dominant, it has to be said, and looked superfluous in every aspect. On the front foot she was capable of forcing the pace of the contest, landing with aggression. On the backfoot she was able to pick Hammer off with the jab and was defensively astute, too.
After several rounds of sheer frustration, the German eventually returned to her form from the first round. That trademark sideways movement appeared lost in certain rounds and it was no coincidence that, when she reverted to her light and bouncy footwork, she began to enjoy more success.
That success was immediately followed up with a huge round for Shields who simply went at it for the duration of the eighth round, knocking the gum shield of Hammer out and rallying relentlessly with an endless barrage of power punches that made her, 24 fight opponent, looked like a novice. Chilling accuracy from Shields, simply chilling.
The final two rounds were yet another dose of dominance coming from the home corner with cruise-control firmly engaged. There were two world champions in that ring but you would never have guessed given the way in which Shields stamped her authority over the contest.
98-92, 98-92, 98-92, to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.
Earlier in the night Otto Wallin opened up the televised broadcast from Atlantic City, a little after 9pm local time, with the Swedish southpaw looking to go 21-0 with a first win on American soil. Nick Kisner, a career cruiserweight, was in the opposite corner and was on a two-fight win streak since losing to, WBA International champion, Ryad Merhy.
Absent from the ring for 357 days, Ottomatic was looking to ease into life in the United States with an impressive victory. Ranked 5th by the WBA and IBF, Wallin had previously been mandatory challenger for the EBU belt before opting to pursue his options Stateside. When the fight began his size advantage was clear to see – some six and half inches the taller boxer.
The 28 year old immediately took to the centre of the ring, using the sheer scale of his legs to stand at distance and tower over Kisner. The American was caught within the first ninety seconds, what by was not instantly obvious, with a cut emerging to the side of the left eye. Blood smeared the cheek of Kisner, in rather un-warrior-like fashion, as he complained he was unable to see. The doctor was called with the referee, David Franciosi, repeatedly asking “can you see or not”.
Altogether the scenes were rather farcical with Kisner stating “I can see out of one eye”, prompting Franciosi to call a halt to the contest. Replays showed an obvious headbut – unintentional mind – and the bout went down as a swift no-decision. A rather anti-climatic debut for the talented Swede.
The second heavyweight of the broadcast was a scheduled ten rounder between Jermaine Franklin and Rydell Booker. Michigan’s Franklin had been hitting his media duties hard in the build up to this contest, declaring himself as “already the best heavyweight” all the while accompanied by montages of him flipping tyres and smashing hammers.
Franklin weighed in a tangerine over 245lbs, the heaviest he’s been in since May 2016, half a stone more than his counterpart but stood, officially, two inches the smaller man. Booker, meanwhile, arrived on a three fight win streak since resuming his professional career last year following a lengthy hiatus, largely spent in prison.
In carrying that excess weight, 18lbs more than his last fight, Franklin looked a little out of shape but snapped out his jab in sprightly fashion from the off. As he threw the jab he would shuffle his whole body into the punch, prompting Booker to sit firmly on the back foot. Constantly chipping away territorially, Franklin was landing the better of the punches but Booker had decent speed of movement in response.
Despite the punching pressure coming from Franklin it was Booker who seemed to be keeping the pace of the contest within his comfort zone – a steady, cooled down tempo. Franklin was looking for flashy shots to match his brash pre-fight braggadocio. Twisting his body into each shot, in a manner not too dissimilar to Samba dancing, the 25 year old was trying to look more impressive than the sum of his shots.
Thoughts of what might have been for Booker seemed to crop up throughout the contest as he made Franklin look, distinctly, average. The older fighter was looking composed in the face of wild, swinging shots and, despite possible assumptions, he simply was not tiring. The final couple rounds of the fight saw Booker having his best spells, some sluggish chipping uppercuts catching Franklin on the chin before the 38 year old followed up with classy combinations.
A fight that never managed to ignite into anything spectacular but rather produced frustrating viewing. Franklin landed with more frequency and consistency, catching Booker flush on a fair few occasions. It was learning fight, as the old adage goes, but, more frankly, it just wasn’t good enough. 99-91, 98-92, 98-92, in favour of Jermaine Franklin.
The story of the night belongs firmly to Claressa Shields who delivered on her promise of dominance. For the first time in a long time, as well, she did it in an entertaining manner. Her last few performances have been a relatively damp but this event, this occasion, seemed to bring out the superstar within her.
She became undisputed middleweight champion of the world with a frightening intensity. The greatest female fighter of all time? I can’t see anyone that comes close. Worryingly, too, she’s only just getting started.
By: Oliver McManus
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City will be the location for Claressa Shield’s attempt to become the undisputed champion of the world. This Saturday, in only her ninth professional contest, T-Rex will look to add the WBO Middleweight title to her already impressive collection. Of course Shields is just one half of that contest and, in the other corner, Christina Hammer will be confident in her own ability to pull off a perceived upset.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
Hammer, born in Kazakhstan and living in Germany, has been a professional since her opponent was just 14 years of age. In ten years of professional boxing Hammer has been at the forefront of European female fighting. Cecilia Braekhus is the obvious flagbearer – and, indeed, the only other undisputed champion – but Hammer has been regularly showcased on German terrestrial television and was one of the first female fighters to gain mass media attention.
A bona fide world champion since 2010, she has subsequently been involved in 15 world title fights in which she’s unified – at one time holding both WBO and WBC belts – and became a two weight world champion.
The 28 year old naturally boxes from range with, genuinely, light and bouncy footwork. She tends to work her way sideways around the ring, as opposed to just marching forward, and peppers away with the left jab. A fighter who looks to control the fight and pick off the rounds instead of chasing the finish, Hammer uses her height to advantage and doubles up on her punches well. A real highlight, for me, is a rolling right hook that often breaks through the guard of her opponent.
Shields, the betting favourite at 1/4 (Hammer can be found at 3/1), is equally methodical in her approach to each contest with three of her last fight bouts ending in shut-out victories. Flak has been attracted for such an approach with critics labelling her fight-style as ‘boring’ but, evidently, it’s effective and continuing to flourish for the American.
Two times an Olympic champion, Shields is no stranger to dominant success and has found herself at the top of the women’s game pretty much since she turned professional in 2016. Self marketed as “The Greatest Woman of All Time”, here she is headlining the fourth televised card of her career – something unprecedented a mere five years ago.
It is likely that she will box reactively, as opposed to proactively, come Saturday night and respond to the work-rate of her German opponent. In doing so she will be able to take a measured approach to nullify the threat posed by Hammer. Fireworks are unlikely but this is a genuine “super fight” of women’s boxing and it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
The undercard features two exciting heavyweight contests – and I’m not talking about Samuel Peter vs Mario Heredia – with Jermaine Franklin taking on Rydell Booker and Otto Wallin fighting Nick Kisner. Both contests will be over 10 rounds.
Franklin will be looking to record the 18th victory of his professional career, after nine months without a fight. The Saignaw-fighter has been doing the media rounds ahead of this particular contest and recently declared himself “the best heavyweight prospect, period”. That statement is questionable given the meteoric rise of talents such as Filip Hrgovic and Joe Joyce.
The unbeaten fighter is determined to vindicate Dmitry Salita, who signed the heavyweight last year, and start proving his worth at the top end of the heavyweight division. Booker, 13 years older at 38, will look to record his fourth consecutive win and advance his record to 26-1. That single loss came at the hands of James Toney, in a WBC title eliminator, back in 2004. His career stalled in the aftermath with a lengthy spell in prison for drug-related offences. A win against Franklin would put his name back on the map of American heavyweights, who seem to always stumble into fights they rarely deserve.
Otto Wallin is a big, angry Swedish fighter who has been knocking around the European scene for a while, now. Hopes have been high but, for varying reasons, we’ve yet to see Wallin really kick on. Now based in New York, signing with Salita Promotions, he’ll look to crack the American market. 20-0, the 28 year old’s best win was in his last fight, 52 weeks ago, against Adrian Granat. Wallin controlled the, all-Swedish, contest with considerable ease and displayed his ability to box and move, whereas in previous fights he has been boxed in as a brawler.
Having given up a mandatory challenger position for the European title – against Agit Kabayel – he won’t be looking to hang around and Nick Kisner, let’s have it straight, is merely an opponent designed to ease Wallin back in after over a year out. Having campaigned almost exclusively as a cruiserweight, don’t expect him to be able to live with the physicality of his southpaw opponent.
Shields vs Hammer, then, to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Boardwalk entertainment, befitting of Broadway.
By: Sean Crose
“I’m just ready to beat Christina Hammer up and make her shut up.”
So said Claressa Shields, two time Olympic Gold medalist and current IBF, WBA, and WBC women’s middleweight champion. Shields was on a conference call to promote this Saturday night’s title unification bout against WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer. The bout is being promoted as the biggest women’s fight in boxing history. That may or may not be true, but the 8-0 Shields, and the 24-0 longtime champ Hammer are most certainly at the top of the pecking order.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity,” Germany’s Hammer claimed. “It’s a big step for women’s boxing, and a big step for me.” The two were supposed to fight last November, but a Hammer injury pushed the battle back to this weekend in Atlantic City (“I still would have won”said Shields). The truth is that Shields isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers, but she also makes it clear that she knows big talk is part of the big business that is boxing. It’s something Hammer concurs with. “I think it’s normal,” said Hammer of the trash talk. “That’s boxing. That’s business.”
“We both talk trash,” Shields admitted. “I can say I don’t like her as much as she doesn’t like me. But at the end of the day, after the fight, I’ll give as much sportsmanship as I can.” Both fighters made it clear that their fight is nothing if not a huge event. Undefeated, young, and decorated, both athletes realize that there’s a lot of bragging rights that come with winning this weekend, though both are already acclaimed in their own right. “Just keep being me,” Shields said in response to the assertion she’s “the face of women’s boxing.” Shields mentioned a piece of advice Andre Ward gave to her: “Just be who you are.” If being who she is brings about a win on Saturday, it will be sound advice indeed.
Although Shields only has eight professional fights to her name, she expressed confidence leading up the bout. “I’m going to whip her ass up all night,” Shields said. “All night.” Yet Shields also showed something of a reflective side during the call. “I’m not a perfect fighter,” she admitted, “just know that I’m getting there.” Not yet twenty-five, it’s clear the former Olympian has a mindset she’s comfortable with. “I just get in there, and win.”
Although Shields may come across as rougher around the edges, Hammer showed that she can subtly and aggressively press buttons. For it was Hammer who interrupted while Shields was answering a question, then laughed when Shields responded.
By: Sean Crose
“We’ve been going twice a day every day except Sunday for five-straight weeks,” says WBC, IBF and WBA middleweight champ Claressa Shields. “We put in lots of rounds sparring, tons of sprinting, pad work, push-ups, crunches and drills to help with my head movement.” Shields has been training hard for her April 13th bout against WBO middleweight champ Christina Hammer. A rare fight for an undisputed championship, the bout will air live on Showtime from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “I don’t want the belts handed to me,” she says. “I’m coming to win every round on April 13.”
Shields travelled to Miami this week after weeks of camp at the US Olympic Training Center, which is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “I’ve put my body through so much on this camp,” says Shields, “and now it’s time to start cutting it down a bit. I’m in great shape and my weight is on point. I’m also in a great place mentally and very happy with this camp overall.” With the fight now just weeks away, the 8-0 Shields intends to keep sharp in order to be in prime form for her 24-0 opponent, Hammer.
“My main focus now,” Shields says, “is trying to relieve my body while keeping my conditioning…I’m making sure that I go into fight week with no injuries or soreness. I’ve been in Colorado for over a month and it was time for some new scenery.” While the weather in Florida can clearly be nicer this time of year than the weather in Colorado, Shields didn’t go to Miami for a vacation. “I’m still going to be training very hard in Florida,” the native of Flint, Michigan claims. “I just need a little more sunshine and the additional space that’s provided for me down here. We did what we had to do in Colorado. Florida is just an ideal environment all-around and a happy place for me to be these last couple weeks.”
Although Shields is not known for her knockout power – she’s only had two fights that haven’t gone the distance – she is clearly more lauded in America than her more experienced German counterpart. Olympic gold and big backing can do that for a fighter. Still, Shields aims to show she’s more than just hype when she steps into the ring a few weeks from now. “I know what I can and will do on April 13,” Shields says. “I already told Christina I’m going to beat her and mess her up. I’m taking this fight 100 percent seriously. I’m going to go out there and dominate her.”