(CBS Local Sports)– The boxing world has been waiting a long time to see undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields fight former champion Ivana Habazin.
The battle for the vacant WBC and WBO 154-pound titles goes down Friday, January 10 on Showtime and Shields has an opportunity to make history with a victory. A win would make the 2x Olympic gold medalist the fastest fighter to become a three-division world champion. While Shields has backed up the talk as the greatest woman boxer in the world, this fight with Habazin is a little more personal than the rest.
“The biggest motivation for me is becoming a three-division world champion faster than any other boxer, male or female,” said Shields in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Regardless of what she [Ivana Habazin] says, her actions have to show it. She can say whatever. I think it’s sad that she’s using her coach’s incident in Flint in order to make herself bigger. That’s kind of insensitive to me. She keeps bringing it up in every interview. At the end of the day, I am the cash cow in women’s boxing. Ivana is being paid more than she’s ever been paid for a fight, but she’s just another opponent. I’m the greatest woman of all-time.”
Shields hasn’t fought since April 2019 when she won on a unanimous decision against Christina Hammer. The fight with Habazin was delayed twice last year due to a Shields injury and an incident involving Shields’ brother and Habazin’s trainer. The undefeated boxer has used the extra time to change her diet to vegetarian and grow as a woman.
“I’m carrying the sport of women’s boxing and I am the best woman fighter and that’s my role,” said Shields. “My goal is to speak up for all of us. I’ve taken the fight game to unique measures and they still don’t like me for their own personal reasons. At the end of the day, no matter what you do, there will be somebody that don’t like you. You don’t have to like me, but you will respect what I do.”
In addition to boxing, Shields says she is intrigued by mixed martial arts and will pursue it in the future. Regardless of her path, boxing will always be a priority.
“I feel like MMA is the second coming of my life, but I’m never going to stop boxing,” said Shields. “I actually plan to have my first MMA fight at the end of the year, but I don’t know against who. Everyone is super respectful of me and it’s great to have that respect as a woman because women don’t really get it, especially coming from boxing. I know I’m great in boxing. I’m a 2x Olympic gold medalist and an undisputed world champ. I’m about to be a three-division world champion come January 10.”
Watch Claressa Shields try to make history against Ivana Habazin Friday, January 10 at 9pm EST/PST on Showtime Sports.