Claressa Shields will look to capture world titles in a third weight class when she returns to action on Friday, Jan. 10, headlining a Showtime card in Atlantic City, facing Ivana Habazin in the night’s 10-round main event.
The vacant WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles are on the line in the fight, as Shields has moved down from 168 to 160 and now 154. If successful, Shields will have captured a total of eight titles across three weight classes, though being clear, six of them were vacant coming into those fights.
Shields, 24, has also expressed her desire to try MMA in 2020, and recently attended UFC 245, where she says she spoke with Dana White about possibly doing a boxing/MMA duet of bouts with Amanda Nunes.
But for now, the focus is boxing, and the native of Flint, Mich., says she’s looking to start the year strong.
“I’m very happy to kick off 2020,” said Shields. “Gervonta Davis ended 2019 on Showtime and then the GWOAT brings in the New Year for Showtime in 2020. It’s going to be a great start to the year. I’m coming in with a bang and gunning for the knockout.”
She’s also looking forward to being there to see the return of Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22 KO), an exciting 22-year-old welterweight prospect from Philadelphia, who faces Bakhtiyar Eyubov in the co-feature.
“I’m super excited to have Jaron Ennis on the undercard, too,” she said. “To me, he’s the next Roy Jones Jr of boxing. He’s slick, he has power, he can box, and he’s an all-around dedicated athlete. I look forward to sharing the card with him as a future world champion.”
Shields (9-0, 2 KO) was originally scheduled to face Habazin (20-3, 7 KO) in Aug. 2018 before Shields pulled out due to injury, and then was canceled in October after a weigh-in attack on Habazin’s trainer.
In the summer, there were rumors Shields wasn’t injured, that she was having trouble making weight, which she denied. And Shields did make weight in October, and says she’s good to go as far as weight is concerned, which is always something people consider when a fighter moves down in weight.
“After our fight was cancelled, I stayed active and only put on about 10 pounds,” she said. “I’ve been down in Florida for the last six or seven weeks. It’s been hard work. I’ve pushed myself and I’m not taking Habazin lightly. I want the knockout because Ivana talks too much. I’m staying focused on being focused, and not letting anyone throw me off by talking nonsense.
“I don’t eat meat anymore. I haven’t in over three months, so my body is more toned now. I actually have a six-pack already with just a little more weight to lose. I think people are going to be surprised at the 154-pound version of me. I’m going to be very strong and very fast because I’ve basically had five months to prepare and to get ready for her specifically.”
Shields does admit that trying to stay in shape for a January fight over the holidays can be tough.
“Balancing around the holidays is something I’ve been doing for years,” said Shields. “I saved a lot of money by not going home for Christmas, that’s for sure. But I still spoke with all my family and connected with everyone. I have a very strict diet in camp and I actually trained on Christmas. I consider my diet more of a life plan in general, and I have my days where I’ll splurge, but I stay disciplined.”
Even beyond the October incident with Habazin’s trainer, the fight between these two has become personal. The two have talked a lot of trash on social media, and Shields vows she’s going to put an emphatic end to the rivalry.
“No matter what she says, this beat down was coming in October,” said Shields. “All I’m doing is bringing it to Atlantic City. I’m going to knock her out. I’m going to put down a whole different beat down on her because of the level of disrespect she has shown me. I’m not going to let her be disrespectful towards me and I’m going to knock her out to shut her up.”