DOUBLE Olympic champion Claressa Shields intends to bring women’s boxing into the mainstream as she prepares for her professional debut on the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward undercard this weekend.
The 21-year-old was a phenomenal amateur, winning two Olympic gold medals and two World gold medals, on top of Pan American success last year.
Shields’ bout will be televised for free in America before the HBO broadcast switches to pay-per-view, and her fight will also be streamed online.
“I’ll have been in camp for seven weeks. I’m excited. I’m ready to take on this new task of being a professional fighter and ultimately, winning a belt,” she said.
“When deciding to go pro, I thought about my legacy—I didn’t want to disappear for four years, and win another gold medal but have people not know my name or what I look like or how I box.
“Expect to see a really good fight, a very skilled fight from me, this Saturday. The world is going to see a level of boxing that no woman boxer has ever showed before. I’m a smart fighter. I’m an entertaining fighter. I throw everything well and have great combinations.”
Shields will face another decorated American amateur – Franchon Crews – in a four round middleweight contest. She plans to fight as much as 10 times in 2017 and wants to be boxing for a world title sooner rather than later. The WBA and IBF middleweight titles are currently vacant, while unbeaten German Christina Hammer holds the WBC and WBO straps.
Women’s boxing still largely operates in the shadows and is streets behind men’s boxing and women fighters in the UFC with regards to exposure. However with Irish sensation Katie Taylor also set to debut as a professional later this month, we could see a turning of the tide.
First, Shields must get past Crews.
“Franchon Crews and I have sparred and boxed before in huge tournaments. She’s coming into this fight fully prepared and I’ve been training for a KO,” she continued.
“In the amateurs, my overall record was 77-1 but I’ve never KO’d anyone. Now, we have smaller gloves, no headgear and I’m way stronger than I’ve ever been. This is a different kind of pro debut. This should actually be a World Championship fight between me and Franchon Crews but somehow, she took it for a pro debut.
“I love boxing. That’s why I commit my time and body. I look forward to fighting in front of all the fight fans. I have friends, family, fans from all over flying into Vegas just to see me fight, so hopefully I can pack the house before the main event.”