Shields vies for world title in fourth pro fight

By Byron Spurlock

“I want to do what other women fighters have not been able to do before me and that is win a world title in four fights,” said two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (3-0, 1 KO) who fights for her first world championship this Friday against WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Nikki Adler (16-0, 9 KOs) of Germany.

Photo: Bob Ryder

While wrapping up her training, Shields took some time to chat with FightNews about her goals, how she wants to be remembered, and how she would do against some of the legends of women’s boxing.

It will be your fourth professional contest this Friday when you challenge Nikki Adler for her world title. Do you have the experience to take on an opponent of that caliber?

I cannot take anything away from Nikki Adler because she built herself up on the past few years. It is not as if I do not have any experience at all, I have fought in the amateurs where I was 77-1. I believe she fought in the amateurs, but only has 30 fights.

We may go more rounds (in the ring) as a pro but I have gone 10 rounds, 12 rounds in training camp. I do not think the rounds between us is going to be a big difference because I think the skill level is going to be a big percentage of the fight. I feel that the experience I have as an amateur is going to be make a difference. I also feel that my power and my speed is going to make a difference in the fight.

Photo: Bob Ryder

What are your keys to victory?

Skill, power and speed are going to come into play for the fight. I do not think she is faster than me, stronger than me, and she definitely doesn’t have my skill. That is what I’m going to show people come August 4th.

People were trying to get me to fight for the world title for my first fight. I told them give me eight weeks to get ready for a 10-rounder and I can fight anybody. I have worked my hardest to get ready for this fight.

What do you feel contributed to your rise to a world title fight so fast?

I think being the first Olympic female boxer to win two Gold Medals back-to-back had something to do with it. That deserves respect. I sat down with my team and I told them what I wanted to do. They said we can build your brand up and fight a bunch of contenders and get a lot of wins and then go for a world title or we can go straight at it, which is what we are doing now.

Do you feel that people are not paying attention to this fight?

People do not realize how good I am and how big a fight this is probably because of the records. I am 3 and 0 with 1 knockout and she is 16 and 0 with 9 knockouts. If we were both 16 and 0 going into this fight, it could be bigger. I wanted do this the fast way. I want people to doubt me. I want people to say “There is no way that this girl who is 3-0 can beat this other fighter who is 16-0!” As a fighter, you want to be the underdog.

I am going to step up to the plate and handle my business. I already consider myself one of the Pound-for-Pound best fighters in the sport today. I want to do what other women fighters have not been able to do before me and that is win a world title in four fights. I want to be considered the best ever.

What is your goal in boxing?

My overall goal for me is that I want to win the title at three different weight classes. I want to be world champion at 168 come August 4th. Then I want to go down to 160 and become champion there, and then I want to go down to 154 and be world champion there. I want to be world champion in all of those divisions.

I also want to unify the titles. I think I have enough time and that I am young* enough to get this done. This Saturday is for the WBC title and the IBF belt, so that would be two titles in the 168-pound division. Then I want to drop weight to 160 pounds and go after the champion there, Christina Hammer. Then I will go down to 154-pound division and fight the champion there.

[Editor’s note: Shields celebrated her 22nd birthday this past March 17th.]

How do want to be remembered with the sport?

I want to end my career when I am around 30 or 33, so I think I have enough time to capture all of my goals. At the end of my career I want to be considered one of the best women fighters ever. I do not want to be considered up there with the best just because I won two Olympic Gold Medals. I want it to be because what I did at the pro level as well.

Photo: Bob Ryder

I want to be listed with the names of Ann Wolfe, Laila Ali. I want that.

Let us talk about some of those names you mentioned, Lucia Rijker, Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe, Christy Martin. Do you think you are already in the category of some of those names?

Absolutely, I have talks with Christy, Laila, and Ann. Christy says the way I fight reminds her of how she fights. She said, “Your attitude is just like mine.” I give all respect to Ali and Wolfe. I have watched Ann Wolfe fight more than I have watched Laila Ali fight and I feel that I fight more like Ann, but I have the speed of Ali.

When you compare me to those names, yes, I box different, but I feel that I could stand with those names. I feel like I am a combination of them. I can look at the tape from my fights and look at their fight and I can tell you that I am different.

Break down yourself against Ann Wolfe.

I can tell you that I am faster than Ann Wolfe. If you ask me if I am stronger than Ann is, “Hell No!” Ann Wolfe would be stronger than I would, but I feel that I am faster than she is.

Break down yourself against Laila Ali.

I am stronger than Ali and faster than her. To me she was an awkward fighter. She is long and had a good jab. In my head, we have had many fights and I won.

Break down yourself against Christy Martin.

I would straight box, for she wants to brawl with you. Christy wants to brawl, so that is something I would not do with her (because) she was the best at it.

How are you going to break the ceiling for women’s boxing?

I do not think that I am going to do anything different from the fighters who came before me. I do not think I am the savior of the sport. I think that marketing has lots to do with it, but I am just going to carry myself and be myself.

I do have a compelling story of how I got here, being from Flint, Michigan. I want the youth to be motivated and touched and for them to feel that they can do anything with hard work and dedication.

I am not going to change myself to change the sport of boxing; I feel I can change the sport of boxing, by not changing whom I am.

At the end of the day we are all human, and I’m going to be myself and if that changes the sport then it changes the sport.

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The Shields vs. Adler contest is the main event for Friday’s ShoBox (10:30p ET/PT) at the MGM Grand Detroit. The aptly named “Battle of the Best” event is promoted by former world title challenger Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions.

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