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August 08, 2017

By G. Leon

GL: Congrats on Claressa Shields victory over Nikki Adler to capture the WBC and IBF super middleweight championships. Can you give us some thoughts on her performance? I think Claressa did a fantastic job, better than anybody anticipated. She beat a very solid world champion who was undefeated and just blew her away. That means the better the competition gets the better she becomes. They say pressure makes diamonds and you can't teach somebody to perform at the level that Claressa did in this fight. I think she's definitely a star in the boxing world and I think she's also going to become the face of women's sports in a short period of time. I was thoroughly impressed with her performance, she's a true world champion and a real American hero. I'm very proud of the way she conducted herself and the way she performed in the ring.

GL: I spoke to James Gordon Smith and he summarized it pretty well by saying Claressa beat that girl like she stole something from Jesus. Were you expecting her to be THAT dominant? She really made Adler look like she didn't belong in the same ring with her.

Dmitriy Salita: "Claressa looked like Roy Jones Jr at his peak. It was just several levels above her competition. Not only how she beat her, but how she threw her combinations and the skills that she showed. The speed, the power, you could see how much women's boxing has come along and how much a solid amateur background can help a boxer. She's a two time gold medalist with an outstanding amateur career. Her punches were very fast, very sharp and very powerful. Her ring generalship is really incredible and I think most boxing fans who saw this fight all over the world are really surprised that a lady can fight like that. With that performance not only did she open the door for herself, but she opened the door for female boxing around the world. What she showed was truly a very high level of fighting. She's getting better with each fight and we expect great things to come from her in the not so distant future."

GL: The hype has already begun for a fight between Claressa and Christina Hammer. When do you expect that fight to happen?

DS: "I think it's a few fights away. It's something that we want to build into a really big fight for women's boxing. Christina is also very confident and she's an undefeated world champion from Germany. She's the champion at middleweight, she attended the fight with her manager and as you can see from her interview in the ring after the fight she's very confident that she can do well against Claressa. Showtime is behind women's boxing and Claressa has given the sport an opportunity to build this rivalry, which is very important."

GL: Is the best way to promote it to have both ladies defend their titles on the same show next time out?

DS: "Those discussions are taking place, so it's very possible. She's got a tremendous future in boxing and a great team around her with Jamie Fritz who handles everything outside of boxing and Mark Taffet who is one of the most accomplished people in our business, he's very smart and very experienced. He really knows how to build big fights and big fighters, he's been in the middle of every mega fight in the last twenty-five years, so it's a great thing for me to be associated with her team. She wore a t-shirt to the press conference that said greatest woman of all time and I feel that she's headed in that direction."

GL: What did you think about Tikhonov suffering his first loss in the co-feature? James Gordon Smith's comeback win and JaRico O'Quinn's draw?

DS: "Shobox is all about boxers fighting fellow prospects and contender and I think Jesse Hernandez was a tough guy and he did what he had to do and he won. The better man won that night and you can never predict what's going to happen when you have two guys fighting each other in an even match-up. It was an upset and upsets are good for boxing. Tikhonov was the 164th undefeated to be defeated on Shobox. For all of our fights on TV we want to make competitive match-ups and that's what this was.  

"James Gordon Smith, last time he had a forgettable experience, but he's back in the gym and focused now and he's really a very good fighter. I think soon enough he's going to show he's world class. He knocked the guy out in twenty seven seconds, he's still very young and he's working hard in the gym to sharpen up his weaknesses. He started the fight out very well by jabbing and the first right hand he threw put the guy to sleep, so I was very impressed with his victory and hopefully he'll get another shot soon on TV to redeem himself.

"JaRico is a very talented fighter and he was winning the fight, but he got dropped and that's why it was a draw. Now he's 7-0-1. He's still undefeated and sometimes that's a good experience for a fighter. JaRico is young enough to learn from this, pick up on his mistakes and become better. The bantamweight division is really starting to heat up with guys like James Gordon Smith and JaRico. There's lots of good fighters and the division is getting exposure on several different television networks. I think both of these guys are getting better and soon enough they're going to have the skills and the experience to compete with the best guys in the division. It's all about learning from your mistakes, getting better and then moving on to the next level. I think that James Gordon Smith has already done that JaRico is well on his way to doing the same thing."

GL: Is the plan to come right back with the rematch for JaRico?

DS: "We'll talk with his team and we'll see what the best move forward is. I would for James Gordon Smith to fight a rematch with Joshua Greer. I would make that fight tomorrow."

GL: Really? Even though he's only gotten twenty seven seconds of ring time since the loss?

DS: "Yes because the work is done in the gym. The sharpening is done at the gym. I've seen James work and he's been very dedicated to fixing his mistakes and getting better. He was winning the fight with Greer and Greer is a very good fighter. The mistakes he made in that fight have been corrected and now he's truly digested what his coaches have been telling him, so I'm confident that the mistake was corrected in the gym. The fact he scored a quick knockout showed this and it also showed that he's not gun shy. A lot of times guys get gun shy after a loss."

GL: When can we expect Claressa back in the ring?

DS: "She's fought in March, she's fought in June and now she's fought in August. She's been very busy. In June she looked sharper than she did in March and now she looked much sharper than she did in June. She's getting better each time out and after this performance I think it's just become more difficult to find girls that are going to want to get in the ring with her. Claressa is going to take a little break and enjoy her two world titles. She won her titles 37 years and two days after Tommy Hearns beat Pipino Cuevas for his first world title. Detroit is just a great fight city and now Claressa has captured two world titles in her first title fight so this is something very special to the city. We look forward to continuing to get her a tremendous amount of exposure not just to the boxing world, but the sports world in general."

GL: You've also got Junior Wright getting ready to face Ruslan Fayfer in an elimination bout on August 18. What can you tell us about that?

DS: "He and I have been in constant communication and he's telling me how prepared he is. Junior came close to winning the world title when he fought Shumenov and I think he's made the necessary adjustments to get it done this time. I think he's gotten used to fighting away from home and I'm expecting a great performance from him. I've also got Antonio Nieves fighting Naoya Inoue for the 115 pound world title and that's going to be a very interesting fight and I'm excited with him getting his opportunity to become world champion on HBO Boxing After Dark. On September 22 Nikolay Potapov is going to be fighting Omar Narvaez in a final elimination bout for the WBO and that fight is going to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina."

GL: When will the next installment of the Detroit Brawl series take place?

DS: "I would say sometime in October, all of the details are being worked out now but we should have something to announce very soon."

GL: Closing thoughts.

DS: Thank you Boxingtalk for your support, we look forward to making great fights for the fans of Detroit, New York and all over the world."

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