Claressa Shields is aiming for bigger things in 2019
LOS ANGELES — This Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields will perform what amounts to an exhibition in the obligatory beat down of the overmatched Femke Hermans (9-1, 3 knockouts) on HBO’s last boxing telecast.
Shields, the IBF, WBA and WBC women’s middleweight champ, will be fighting Hermans, but her mind is likely to be elsewhere. The 23-year-old from Flint, Michigan, was scheduled to face WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer on Nov. 17 before Hammer pulled out for an undisclosed medical condition.
So, when Shields (7-0, 2 KOs) sat down to speak with the media during the weekend of the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight, “T-Rex” spoke more about her evolving relationship with trainer John David Jackson, who will be working with Shields for the third time, and Hammer than she did Hermans.
“We already have contracts signed, so we’re just waiting for her to get better for the fight to take place in the first quarter of next year,” Shields said about Hammer. “I don’t know Christina Hammer like that, I just know that she’s easily shaken. I had a long, long camp for (Hannah Rankin).
“One of the main things I learned was to calm down, focus and not get so amped up. I’m always so excited, and that burns energy. I had to calm down, think and listen to my corner. I just have to keep that same focus against the women as I do the guys.”
Jackson loves working with Shields. The Florida-based trainer likes her work ethic, her commitment and the simple fact that she listens to what he says. Jackson, Shields says, has added to her toolbox. She’s throwing punches in combination, going to the body, using her uppercut more often and better angles to approach opponents.
“Claressa has more desire than (Sergey) Kovalev and she has way more heart than him, and the way she fights, there’s no quit in her,” Jackson said. “One thing about Claressa is that she’s sincere before the fight. The thing she says she’s going to do, she does.
“She wants to be the best.”
Shields has an idea of her future and it includes staying on TV.
“I want to stay on TV and I don’t want to fight off TV,” Shields said. “I want to keep it real. I like being dominant, and I think the knockouts will come the more I learn about my body. I’m fighting top girls who have been fighting 10, 15 years and I’ve been doing it for two years.
“Against Rankin, I was dominant. She did a lot of covering up, headbutts, and a lot of holding. I still kicked her ass every round. I was fine with that, because the fight before that, I got knocked down in the first round. Sadly, yes, I enjoy being dominant. Sadly, for them. I enjoy fighting. I do like hurting my opponents.
“I love boxing.”
Though she’ll have Hermans in front of her Saturday night in the scheduled 10-rounder, in Shields’ mind, she’ll be punching Hammer.
“When I dream about my boxing matches, I see myself in tough fights, and I see myself in the ring with people really challenging me,” Shields said. “When I talk about boxing and how bad I want to fight (Hammer), that puts me in a rage. That fight will come. I love to fight Hammer, but even if I don’t, I’ll still be happy with my career.”
The Shields-Hermans fight will take place under the Cecilia Braekhus-Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes undisputed welterweight title fight.
Fighting Braekhus is something Shields isn’t ruling out of her future, either.
“It will have to come at 154, because I won’t be able to get down to 147,” Shields said. “My nutritionist thinks I can make 147, but I don’t think I can make 147 and I don’t want to make 147. It is a fight that could happen—but at 154.
“Winning the gold medal can’t be my highest of everything. Now that I’m pro, I want to become undisputed and fight the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound woman. I think I’ll be the happiest when I have all four belts at 160, when I beat Christina Hammer. I need her to shut up.
“I’ll be happy when that happens.”
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