Gold medalist Shields goes for title in 3rd weight class
By DAN GELSTON
(AP) -- Claressa Shields will try for a third time to win a world title in three divisions.
The first bout against Ivana Habazin was scratched because Shields injured her knee in training. The second attempt, wacky even for the world of boxing weigh-ins, went off the rails: Habazin's trainer was struck by Shields' brother and was hospitalized the night before the bout, so the fight was postponed.
Shields and Habazin have kept the week leading up to Friday's 154-pound fight in Atlantic City, New Jersey, free of drama or any other distractions that could cancel the bout yet again.
The fight is on, and history is on deck for the 24-year-old Shields.
"I just try to keep carrying women's boxing the best way that I can," Shields said. "I'm regarded as a top-10 fighter in boxing already with only nine fights. When you have that kind of pressure, you have to go out and not be average. Skill wise, there's not a woman that can compare to me."
Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) won Olympic gold in 2012 in London and repeated the feat four years later in Rio de Janiero. All that's left for Shields, who overcame a childhood of poverty and abuse in Flint, Michigan, is to become the best of all time.
"When I win this fight, I'm just going to get a little bit louder with: She's the GWOAT, Greatest Women Of All Time," Shields said. "Put it there. I claim it."
Shields, who hasn't lost since 2012 as an amateur, already has won the middleweight and super middleweight crowns and beat Christina Hammer in her last fight in April in Atlantic City.
Her layoff wasn't supposed to stretch into 2020, but her injury scratched the scheduled August fight with Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), who is from Croatia. The fight was rescheduled for October in Flint, a supposed triumphant homecoming bout for Shields, who refused to slip through the cracks in her hometown and gravitated toward boxing as a way to get out. But the weigh-in went haywire and 68-year-old trainer Bashir Ali was bloodied and needed an ambulance after the attack. In the wake of the melee, Artis Mack was charged with assault and the fight was shelved for a second time.
"Everyone who was in Flint and knows about the incident that happened knows it's not something I have a history of doing," Shield said. "I don't do stuff outside the ring."
Shields, who said she hasn't eaten meat in more than three months to help move down to junior middleweight, could become the fastest fighter in boxing history - either male or female - to become a three-division world champion. Granted, women's boxing doesn't have the depth of talent or years of title fights as men, but Shields could be a game-changer for the sport. She's even interested in pursuing an MMA career, trading her skills inside the ropes for ones inside the cage.
"I'm once-in-a-century kind of athlete," she said.
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Updated January 9, 2020