Claressa Shields, Ivana Habazin discuss two-belt world title battle
Unified middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former world champion Ivana Habazin showed off their skills at a media workout Wednesday before they go toe-to-toe this Saturday night in a showdown for the WBO and WBC 154-pound world titles live on SHOWTIME from Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Mich.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Salita Promotions, in association with T-REX BOXING PROMOTIONS, can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com and at the Dort Center box office.
After her portion of the media workout, Shields, who fights in her hometown of Flint for the first time as a pro on Saturday, spent time with kids who participate in the gym’s Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG) program for Detroit students ages 8-18. The gym currently serves over 170 students with mentorship and training programs. *More information on DBG is listed below.
Joining Shields and Habazin at the media workout were fighters competing in non-televised attractions Saturday including local super flyweight contenders Ja’Rico O’Quinn and James Smith, who will fight for the WBO International title, and Scotland’s Hannah Rankin, who steps in against Erin Toughill in a super welterweight attraction.
Here is what the workout participants had to say Wednesday:
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m actually fighting in Flint. Once everything happens at the press conference I think it will actually hit me. I hope that this fight shows people in Flint that no matter what we go through, Flint comes out on top.
“Habazin has a good record and is ranked highly, so I know what she presents. I trained for nine weeks not to lose weight, but to be prepared for a tough match. I trained to come here and get the knockout. It should be a great fight come Saturday.
“I’ve been fighting for 13 years and I’ve never missed weight once. If you have a fight at a certain weight class, you come on weight. That’s just protocol. You do what you have to do. I’m still drinking my water and eating. I’m not starving myself to make weight.
“It’s important every time to look better than my last fight. That’s just my mentality so that I keep myself from doing too much but also doing enough. I looked superb in my last fight. I showed people that I’m a complete fighter. I can’t show less than that on Saturday. To me, that means I have to get the knockout.
“I know that I’m faster at 154-pounds. It’s been a big jump for this one. I’m Roy Jones Jr. fast for this one. I can drop my hands, throw punches and land them from any angle. This weight is beneficial for body. It fits me well.
“I’ve taken women’s boxing to a place it hasn’t been before, but it’s not where it needs to be yet. I think that my performances are getting better and better and everything I do outside of boxing is helping to build me up as well.
“I just want to get better every fight. I want to make sure that I show even more of everything that I did against Hammer. That’s been my mentality since the amateurs.”
“I had a very good, hard training camp. It was a four-month camp, which was the longest of my career. I had great sparring and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.
“For this fight I’m focused only on myself. This fight can change everything in my life. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but everyone will find out on Saturday night.
“Anything is possible in boxing and I’ve prepared for that. I’m ready for a tough fight and I expect it. I’m going all or nothing to win this fight.
“I hope that she’s going to make weight. I always make weight and I think that she’ll make the weight fine. We’ve both taken this fight very seriously. I have been very disciplined and had a great nutrition plan and I’m already on weight.
“I haven’t even thought about her knee injury at all. I’ve been injured before and I get in there and fight anyway. She’s a fighter and even if she had some problems, I know those aren’t going to be in her mind. The fight is too big to do that.
“I can’t think about what’s going to happen when I win. I need to be only focused on this fight. Dreams and reality are two different things. I’m here to give 100 percent of myself. I didn’t come here to play games.”
“I’ve seen the same things everyone else sees when they watch Smith. He’s straight up and down, straight forward with no special effects.
“You have to tune in on Saturday night to see this one. I’m going to look my best on this big card with everyone watching. My opponent better bring his ‘A-game’ because I’m definitely bringing mine.
“Training camp has been going great and everything feels good heading into this fight. I’m going to be ready for anything in the ring and ready to go as many rounds as it takes.”
“At the end of the day, none of the talk matters. We have to fight. Nothing he says matters. He has to see me in that ring.
“His best attribute is that he has decent hand speed and a good punch output. He throws a lot of punches, but when he finishes his combinations, he’s not making defensive moves behind it. He’s sitting right there.
“He got dropped twice recently by someone who can’t punch. If I hit him with those same punches, he’s not getting up.
“My plan is to go in there and stay smart. As long as I’m smart and work behind my jab, I shouldn’t have any problem. But I do want to bust him up. I don’t want to knock him out, I want to beat him very very badly.”
“When I turned pro I said that I wanted to be the best that I can be. I have goals and I’m motivated and my team is pushing really hard to get here. I’m not surprised how far we’ve gone, because I’ve been putting the work in.
“It’s fantastic to be on the undercard of an event headlined by a great women’s fight. I’ve been sparring with Claressa in the lead up to this and it’s been great to be involved in the lead up to her fight.”
JOHN DAVID JACKSON, Shields’ Trainer
“Claressa knows how to bring the pressure with her power, and we’ve just been working on putting a little more precision with her punches so that hopefully this time, you’ll see the knockout.
“Claressa says she’s the best and she wants to keep proving that to the world with each fight. If she starts knocking these fighters out, then that’s going to be a big plus for her. She’s going to be even better defensively too and make her opponent miss and then make her pay.
“I just want her to take it all in and enjoy the moment of fighting at home. Some fighters get distracted by it, but she’s not that way. She’s excited to be here and give her city something to talk about. I think she’ll take the energy from the crowd and it’ll make her fight even better.”
BASHIR ALI, Habazin’s Trainer
“She’s very ready. You don’t want to overdo the training or under do it. I’ve been doing this for 50 years and I’ve seen a lot of things. You never really know until that bell rings.
“Claressa is a top competitor and Ivana is also a top competitor. Ivana has 23 fights, so I don’t have to hold her hand and walk her through everything. She knows what she has to do to win this fight.
“They say a boxer is only as good as their last fight. So you can’t put too much into what you see on the video. You just have to also be prepared for the unexpected. I take into account what she does and doesn’t do, but I’m sure Claressa and her team have looked at themselves and made changes.”