Interview: Claressa Shields

By Byron Spurlock

Unified women’s super middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and undefeated IBF mandatory challenger Tori Nelson are set for their 10-round WBC and IBF world title showdown tonight in the ShoBox main event taking place at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY.

Photo: Bob Ryder

The 22-year-old two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) will face her second consecutive undefeated opponent in the former world champion Nelson (17-0-3, 2 KOs).

We caught up with Claressa in the lead up to the fight.

How has camp been going in preparation for your fight again Nelson?

The camp has been going fine. We trained eight weeks for this fight and I don’t think I’m going to do eight weeks again for a fight. I typically do six weeks. So, I think we over-trained a bit. At this point I’m just ready to fight because I’m sick of training. The next fight is going to be six weeks. I had a really good camp and the reason we did eight weeks was because I didn’t want to have any ring rust when I got in the ring with Nelson. I’m focused and ready to get into the ring and just work.

You mentioned in recent conversations that you have been wanting this fight for a long time. Can you elaborate on that?

I have wanted this fight with Nelson for a long time. The fact that the fight is on Showtime is great; however, I’ve wanted to fight Nelson who is undefeated in her record at 17-0-3. She is a good fighter and I want to fight whoever thinks they are the best out there. She thinks she can dethrone me so I want to give her a chance. She feels that she can beat me so she will get her chance to try.

I’ve called her out before and she turned those opportunities down. Now she accepted the fight so I hope that she feels confident now. She was the one ducking and dodging people. It wasn’t me. I’ve been the one ready to fight, she was the one who was always finding excuses to not fight.

Photo: Bob Ryder

With Nelson having a record of 17-0-3, 2 KOs, it appears that she has a lack of punching power. Are you worried about anything?

No. I’m not worried about anything from her. I feel that she might try to bring a little more fight to me than she has against her last opponents, but I’m not worried about anything. The only thing that she could try to bring to the fight is pressure, but that is not going to happen. The only other thing she could try to bring would be experience. She has more pro experience than me, but I have more amateur experience than her. I have fought against fighters who have been undefeated and who have a lot of experience. She really hasn’t fought against anybody that has been successful. Even her last fight against Tasha Burton. Come on! She fought her and I couldn’t even get approved to fight Burton due to it would have been a mismatch. And she is fighting Burton to get ready for me, I guess, go figure.

What are you to gain in this fight at all by fighting Nelson?

To me I have everything to lose in this fight. I would be gaining a victory against another undefeated fighter. A lot of fighters are padding their records by fighting fighters who have more losses than wins on their records. I’m the one taking the risk here not her. She is the one the one that has everything to gain in this fight. She [Nelson] took the fight and says she is ready and she says she is going to dethrone me and retire undefeated.

I’m just going to show up and wreck everything that she wants. I’m just ready to fight. Nelson called me the Ronda Rousey of women’s boxing and that’s like saying that I’m just a hype job, just because I’m getting all this attention. When really all it is is she’s just mad, she isn’t in my place.

Now that we have a chance to fight against each other, we will see who is the real hype job.

This is your first defense of your title in the super middleweight title on Showtime. However, you have talked about moving down to the middleweight division. Why are you looking at moving down in weight divisions?

It’s simple, I want to dethrone Christina Hammer.

You have talked about 2018 being a historic year for you. In what ways you are you predicting that? By fighting Christina Hammer?

Hammer is just one fight. There are other fighters I would like to fight as well. After I dethrone Hammer at 160 lbs., then I want to move down to the 154 lbs. division as well. At the end of the day I want to be best women’s fighter who ever lived and in order for me to do that I need to go out there and take care of the women fighters who think they are the best pound for pound.

My goal is to be the best and be #1 pound for pound. So, 2018 is going to be a big year for I’m going to start beating these fighters who think they are the best. I’m already the champion at 168 lbs. After I beat Nelson we are going to look for Hammer at 160 lbs., then we are going to move on down to 154 lbs.

When you fight the best and you beat the best you are the best, and that is our goal for 2018.

When are we going to see you take a risk fight in the ring where you stand a good chance on actually losing?

Each fight a fighter takes is a fight that he or she may lose, so each fight they take is a fight they may lose.

I’m looking to fight the best and Hammer right now is one fighter that people say has the best chance on defeating me. So, I’m looking to fight the best. I feel like I have taken risks in the ring so far and I will continue to in the ring.

Put yourself in Christina Hammer’s shoes, why should she fight you?

I’m the big money fight. I’m the top of the food chain. I’m the one that people want to see fight. We are only a single weight division apart from each other.

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