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August 08, 2017

By G. Leon

GL: Can you give us some thoughts on your fantastic perform over Nikki Adler to capture the WBC and IBF super middleweight championships? I just know I wanted to go out there, and I've always said that the better the fighter is that I fight, the better I'll look because I'm going out there to rise to the occasion. That's exactly what I did, I came out in the first round and I didn't let her get any confidence at all. If she was trying to feel confidence in there I wanted to let her know right away that you can't hurt me, you're not faster and I took the initiative in the first round.

GL: Nikki Adler was an undefeated champion who four times as many professional fights as you have and you made her look like she didn't belong in the same ring with you. It was quantum leap in terms of performance from Szabados to Adler. How did that happen?

Claressa Shields: "In training camp we look at the footage, we look at our mistakes and we fix them. In each fight there's always mistakes so we go to the gym and start from there. Everything that's good we keep it good and look to make it a little bit sharper, but it's all about working on the mistakes. Against other fighters I threw some wide shots and I wasn't as calm as I should have been. In this fight I was a lot calmer. Even in sparring, for the first four rounds I would spar with three different men. The first guy who I sparred with would tell me to go out there and be calm, I don't want you to shoot your load because you're still going to have six rounds to go past this and that's what I did. This is about making that transition from the amateurs to the pros. In the amateurs you've got four two minute rounds so you've got to go. That's what I'm used to, not that I do it perfectly, but you've just got to win fights and I like to go, go, go go. I still want to keep some of that amateur style in me because I do like my pace. I do like being able to throw punches and a lot of combinations and that comes with being in shape. It came from the miles I was running, I changed up my diet. A lot of water and I hate water. I've hated water for years, but there's this thing they put in the drink to make the water taste just like kool-aid. I'm cheating, but I'm still drinking water."

GL: You looked overjoyed in the ring, but now that you've had a few days to reflect on the victory, what does becoming WBC and IBF super middleweight champion mean to you?

CS: "It means a lot to me. I want to be at the top of everything I'm doing. I don't like being the underdog or being at the bottom and not being respected. It's something I've been kind of upset about, I'm the best female boxer ever and you don't get that respect unless you have those titles and take big fights. I think now I'm happy with where I'm at in four fights. Being the IBF and WBC champion at super middleweight, I'm happy about that and I know that my career is going in the right direction. I've been getting a lot of media attention and I know there's millions of eyes watching me on Showtime. People have been amazed and shocked, and they have been saying that they've never seen anything like me, so to be at the top is a great feeling, but it's still not enough for me. This is just the beginning, there's so much more that I want to do. I want to get the WBO and the WBA at super middleweight and then I want to drop down to 160 and kick Christina Hammer's ass and take her belt. Then 154 where hopefully I can get a fight with Cecilia Braekhus at a catch-weight because right now she is the pound for pound woman and I would love to fight her. I think I have enough time to do it because I'm only 22 years old and my career is moving really, really fast. Of course I would love to be 50-0 and beat Mayweather's record, but right now I'm just focusing on the first 15-20 fights. If I can get more fights than that I would be happier, but I know I can get down in weight and after 154 I can move back to 160 or 168 and I know a lot of girls are going to be turning pro. My thing is to keep bringing interest to the sport so girls can come forward and know that they have a chance to fight on TV, make some money, be respected, which is something that doesn't happen in the amateurs unless you make an Olympic team."

GL: The pace at which you fought Adler was the likes of which we have not seen before, it's something people aren't used to seeing. Do you think you'll be able to maintain that pace in a distance fight?

CS: "Ab-so-lute-ly. That's why I train the way I do. I pay attention to my body and sparring against the men keeps me very sharp. I'm not able to spar against women because I have to take it easy on them, but against the men I get to see my full potential. I get to see how many punches I'm able to throw in sparring compared to a fight. I throw way more punches in sparring and I'm sparring against young guys who are 18, 19 and 20 years old. They're young and they're fast and they fight at a fast pace, so sometimes in the gym I need to keep up with them so I need to have a faster pace than them. I know I have to slow it down some in my fights, but I know we've got a good game plan. I'm not changing my style drastically, it's just fighting in a way to be able to go more rounds. I've watched a lot of fights and I've seen people get tired in the fourth or fifth round and they're fighting an eight rounder. I start my eight round fights looking spectacular and this last fight was a ten and I started off the same way. I didn't feel fatigued at all, I think my second wind was about to kick in and then she was really about to be in trouble."

GL: You mentioned Christina Hammer earlier, the hype machine is already in motion, she was in the ring after your victory showing interest in wanting to fight you. What are your thoughts of Hammer as a fighter?

CS: "Hammer is not a bad fighter, but she folds under pressure. I don't know if you seen that fight with Anne Sophie Mathis where Anne Sophie Mathis got disqualified because of a punch to the back of Hammer's head. It was only in the fourth round, but you can tell that Anne Sophie Mathis was way stronger than Christina Hammer. Hammer could not keep the girl off of her, she was out-boxing her but all those twists and turns and those body shots started to show effect and I feel like Sophie was getting ready to TKO Hammer, but I guess the foul to the back of the head sent Hammer down and she couldn't continue. Her boxing skills cannot compare to mine. If you're going to come in there bouncing around and stuff you're going to get hurt. I'm going to mess up your face and you're going to get damaged to the body a lot. She has really good movement and I look at her as like a Holly Holm almost, but I'm just a completely different fighter. I've fought against girls like her already and I don't feel like she's going to be able to make it past the eighth round either. I know she came to Detroit for a reason, she was recording from her seat and she knows that's she's going to have to really, really train and dig deep to try to make it a very tough fight with her movement and her jab. I'm just going to continue to box the way that I box and I'm not going to make any adjustments to her, she's going to have to be making adjustments to me."

GL: Will the fight be built up a bit or will it be next?

CS: "No, no, no, this is boxing and this is a business, we're going to build it up. I know she's going to need some time to get ready. I'm going to be off for a month or two, but the fight has to be built into one of the biggest women's fights ever. This will be like the fight that was supposed to happen with Laila Ali and Anne Wolfe. This could even be bigger than that because of both of our resumes and undefeated records. This is going to be the best versus the best. I know I'm definitely interested in making the fight and I won't be the one turning down the contract, that's for sure."

GL: (cutting in) You told her to go get dressed in the ring, we all heard it.

CS: "Yeah, go get dressed because I got five rounds left and she would have gotten her ass kicked."

Mark Taffet: "The expectation is that the fight will take place not later than the middle of 2018."

GL: The fight has a nice ring to it, Shields Vs. Hammer.

MT: "Funny, that's very good. I have a hundred thoughts already that you just gave me. This is not only the biggest fight that can be made in women's boxing, more importantly it's the fight that will get women's boxing to where we want it to be. Claressa recognizes that she got into this as a professional with her very broad shoulders to carry the sport to a new level. We all know that the Hammer fight is the one that will get us there. We're not going to let it take too long, but we're going to use it as an opportunity to build the awareness of women's boxing and most importantly, up the quality of talent in the women's boxing ranks today. We believe this level of talent has never before been present and we think that this what's going to get the fans to call what these women do boxing, not women's boxing. That's why we're going to be careful and maximize it's awareness level, but the fight will surely take place. If there's one thing that all of top women that I've spoken to so far, they all want to fight the best every single day. And that's what the fans want."

GL: My biggest concern about the fight as an outsider looking in is, I know the fight has to be built up, I know that likely includes have Claressa and Hammer defend their titles on the same card. My concern is that Claressa looks like a cold blooded killer like she did the other night and Hammer struggles, which would have everybody thinking that Shields-Hammer is a death match.

CS: "Styles make fights and Christina Hammer is going to take care of her business. That fight with Sophie was ten years ago and from what I've seen she knows how to move and she knows how to entertain the fans. We have two different styles, but I think she's going to be fighting somebody with as much skill as whoever I'm going against. That's what's going to build the interest, I definitely don't think she's as skilled as me, I think she's two or three notches down. The only other fighter out there that I think is as skilled as me is Katie Taylor. I have so much respect for Katie Taylor from Ireland. She's thirty pounds lighter, but watching her in tournaments and getting to know her in the amateurs she's like just a notch under me."

GL Closing thoughts?

CS: "Thank you guys for tuning into my fight on Showtime, I appreciate the love. Follow me on social media @claressashields and comment and watch my videos, send me a message and buy some of my T-Rex gear."

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