Claressa Shields Chasing Third Division World Title in August
By David A. Avila
When other pound for pound boxers refuse to fight, what do you do?
You challenge yourself.
Two division world champion Claressa Shields could not entice other top champions so she will be dropping down to 154-pound super welterweight and meeting Croatia’s Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBO world title. The match takes place on August 17 in Flint, Michigan at the Dort Federal Event Center.
Shields seeks a third division world title and Showtime will televise Salita Promotions event.
“Having the opportunity to become world champion in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history will make August 17 a night I will cherish forever,” stated Shields.
Offers were made to other world champions including American and European world champions considered in the top pound for pound lists, but only Habazin answered the call.
What former welterweight world champion Habazin offers is experience and international world championship knowledge that includes exchanging punches with unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus.
Can Habazin withstand the tornado that is Shields?
“I’m honored to fight on SHOWTIME and to be making my debut in the U.S.,” said Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs). “It’s a dream come true and this is a huge chance for me to prove that I am one of boxing’s elite fighters. I will not let this opportunity pass. I’m not just coming to the U.S. to fight, I’m coming for victory.”
Shields was last seen unifying the middleweight championship by complete domination over Germany’s Christina Hammer this past April to win by unanimous decision. It nearly ended by stoppage.
It was a thorough and savage beating that seemingly scared off the competition. But the undisputed middleweight champion wants to fight and needs to fight. Is she too good for the female fight world?
“I’m actually a big fan of Claressa. She made history for women’s boxing and will be a great opponent for me. She’s very confident in herself, she’s aggressive, she can move, she has speed and good defense. But I have all of this too, and I can punch,” said Habazin, 29. “I can’t wait to see what she is made of. They said her fight against Hammer was the biggest of all time, but I think this one will be the greatest ever.”
Shields, 24, captured the super middleweight, middleweight and then unified the middleweight title. Her speed, agility and defensive skills have left others numb and doubting themselves.
But with America and the world anxious to see more of the undefeated prizefighter, who also claimed two Olympic gold medals in boxing in 2012 and 2016, Shields needs to appease her fandom. And that means to fight again and this time in her hometown.
“It’s hard to even put into words how excited I am to be returning home as undisputed champion and fighting in front of all my fans in Flint,” said Shields.
For fans living in other parts of the country and world they will be able to see female prizefighting’s alleged best.
“Without question, Claressa Shields is the face of women’s boxing,” said Gordon Hall, executive producer of Showtime Boxing.
Mark it down in your calendar.
(Photo by JP Yim)