Unified middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former world champion Ivana Habazin went face to face Thursday at the final press conference two days before they battle for the WBO and WBC 154-pound world titles live on SHOWTIME from Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Mich.
Also featured at Thursday’s press conference and competing on the SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast were undefeated welterweight prospect Jaron Ennis and Argentina’s Demian Daniel Fernandez, who square off in the 10-round co-feature, and unbeaten heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin and once-beaten Pavel Šour, who battle in the televised opener at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT
At Thursday’s press conference, Gordon Hall, SVP, Production, SHOWTIME Sports and Event Programming and Executive Producer of Saturday’s telecast, presented Claressa Shields with a $10,000 donation to the “Claressa Shields Community Project.” The project is a summer camp designed to help Flint youth learn how to cope with stress, anxiety, anger, sadness and depression, and provides educational tutoring services to dozens of children. With this $10,000 donation, Shields will surpass her current fundraising goal for the project.
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.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center:
“Starting my community project with the kids and spending a lot of time with them really taught me a lot. It reminded me of the childhood that I didn’t have. My whole life has always been about boxing. That’s why these girls can’t beat me. Growing up, boys didn’t matter. Punching the bag the fastest mattered. Punching the bag the hardest mattered. Doing 25 pushups faster than the boys mattered.
“I always knew I would be the one to do it for women’s boxing. Yeah, we had Laila Ali, respect. But she can’t do for women’s boxing what I’m doing. I put a lot on the line, I started my career at 168. This fight on Saturday is going to be at 154. I had to lose a lot of weight for this fight because I cleaned out the division at 160. Every time I came out of a division, there’s somebody else telling me I’m not the greatest woman of all time. I love when they say that because I want you to come show me I’m not the greatest woman of all time. Ivana is here to do that.
“I don’t know what Ivana came here to do, but I’m telling you right now it’s going less than five rounds. She said her game plan was to stand there and bang with me. Not with muscles like this. She’s going to sleep and her coach is going to be carrying her out on a pillow.
“I watched every fight of hers. Her last six or seven fights, nothing changes. It’s the same combinations. Same hand speed. Getting caught with the same shots. When you see me box, you see improvement. I’m not coming here to Flint to play no games with her.
“I’m a 168 fighter. And I have to keep coming down to these girls’ weight because they’re scared to come see me. So I came to 154 and I came to see her. I’m going to show her. As you can see, this is the Claressa Shields show. It’s about me. There’s no friction in my camp. We are about business and we’re about the money. Pay me.”
“I’m definitely ready for this fight. I had a very tough four-month training camp. This is the best preparation I’ve ever had in my life for a fight. I’m in the best shape of my life.
“I am 100 percent focused on this fight. I trained harder than I ever have before. I had the ability to work on a lot of new things. I had five different sparring partners who brought a lot to help me improve. I gave everything into this camp and I believe I will receive something in return.
“None of the pre-fight talk bothers me. I’m not going to make a big show and trash talk. For me, this is just part of the job of what I have to do before I fight. All that matters is what is going to happen in the ring.
“This win on Saturday is going to change my life. This is my biggest fight ever. She’s right now the top women’s boxer, so there couldn’t be a bigger victory.
“I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I don’t want to waste my energy talking before the fight, but I just want to say I’m excited to see how happy everyone here is right now for Claressa, because they’re going to be sad on Saturday when I win.”
“We had a great training camp and Saturday night we’re going to put on a show. We’re going to have some fun.
“I’m ready to rock and roll. Saturday night I’m going to show Flint, Mich., what I can do. This is about the next steps to the next level. To get to the elite level, that’s what we want. And the end of the day we want everyone – champions, top 15, we want everybody.
“Stylistically it’s going to be me controlling the whole fight and knowing what I want to do and having fun and eventually getting the knockout.
“I’ve been sparring a lot of bigger guys because I can’t spar guys my weight or lower because I’m too strong for them. So it’s been only bigger guys in there for sparring. Whatever he brings, we will be ready for anything.
“I appreciate everything Claressa Shields has done for boxing and bringing this show here and hopefully I pick up some of her fans.”
“I don’t think he knows what he signed up for. But we’re going to show him Saturday night. We’re going to have some fun so make sure you all tune in.”
DEMIAN DANIEL FERNANDEZ
“It’s a pleasure to be here and have this opportunity. I came here to bring a victory back to Argentina. I know that my opponent is worthy, but he’s got nothing for me.
“My heart will be the difference in this fight. I’m going to run right through him like a train. I believe that I am better in every aspect of the sport.
“I know that I’m going to bring a challenge that my opponent has never seen. I believe I’ve faced tougher competition and that will play itself out in the ring.
“I see someone who’s been treated carefully and had his record padded. This is a dream come true and it’s all going to come together on Saturday.”
“I’m feeling ready to go on Saturday. I changed some stuff up. I have a nice game plan. I’m going to go in there and try to chop the body down early. I’m excited, this is the closest show I’ve had to home. I have a lot of support coming to the fights. It’s always great fighting in front of friends and family but I get a little too excited sometimes. Right now, it’s about trying to stay calm and do what I came here to do.
“In boxing, there’s always a lot of distractions whether you’re fighting home or not. The biggest one is just trying to stay calm. I get a burst of adrenaline when I’m fighting at home. Other than that, I don’t let the distractions affect me because I’m dedicated.
“The journey to get to where I am now has been tough. I went through a lot of trials and tribulations. There have been downtimes. We fight until better days come. I took all my stepping stones the right way so the journey was pretty hard. But in the end, the process was good for me.
“I don’t think I’m that far away from a big opportunity on a big stage. I still have some points to prove. I need to wake some people up. But I don’t think I’m far away from a big pay day, I’m closing in.
“I would love for my next fight to be in Saginaw but that’s something I need to talk to my team about. But I think I could sell out a nice card in Saginaw. They would love to see that. I don’t think it’s a big burden representing for my city. We all show love and support to each other. Robert Simms is fighting on this card and he’s from Saginaw too. I think we all feed off each other.”
“I’m really happy to be here for my first time in the U.S. I’m very grateful for my team for getting me this opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it.
“Franklin is a strong fighter. He wants to go toe-to-toe, but I’m going to box him from a distance and control the fight from start to finish.
“I think that I have a lot of experience in the ring that will help me in this fight. I’ve boxed for 21 years. He was only a kid when I started in this sport.
“I feel great achieving this dream of fighting in the U.S. I’m happy to take the dream even further with a win on Saturday.”
FLINT MAYOR KAREN WEAVER
“I’m so happy to be here and the city of Flint is thrilled that the time is finally here for us to have another championship right here. Claressa said she was going to do it and we can’t wait for everybody to see what’s going to take place Saturday night.
“We also want to say thank you to Claressa for the love and support that she has shown for her hometown. We’re so grateful that there are people like you that come back home and make a mark in their community. We know that we can’t do it without you, and we are with you.”
GORDON HALL, SVP, Production, SHOWTIME Sports and Event Programming and Executive Producer of Saturday’s SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION
“SHOWTIME has a long history of featuring women in combat sports. Whether it was in MMA with Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg or Ronda Rousey to Laila Ali and Christy Martin in boxing. Most recently, we have the great Claressa Shields, former middleweight champion Christina Hammer, as well as Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano.
“Shields-Habazin will be the eleventh women’s bout that we’ve had on SHOWTIME since 2017 and Claressa Shields is leading the way. Claressa Shields is the best woman fighter today. She has accomplished more in a shorter period of time, dominated all of her opponents and yes, she is still getting better. And frankly, that’s scary.
“Male or female, SHOWTIME is delivering the best fighters in the best matchups and we’ve done that for 35 years. We expect the same on Saturday night. Claressa Shields is making her sixth appearance on SHOWTIME. She’s already made history, holding two division titles including unifying the middleweight division. Now, she’s looking to become the first fighter, male or female, to win three division titles within her first 10 fights.
“Ivana Habazin is an eight-year pro. She is a former welterweight champion who has more than twice the amount of professional fights as Claressa. Both fighters have top trainers and I have no doubt that this will be a fight you won’t want to miss.
“On the undercard, we have one of the top American heavyweights in Saginaw’s Jermaine Franklin, who is making his third appearance on SHOWTIME. He’s facing once-beaten Pavel Šour in a fight for recognition, to try to get their names in the ever-changing heavyweight division conversation.
“Our co-feature spotlights Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis, who is the best prospect in boxing. No doubt. He was an amateur standout with speed and power that all will appreciate. His opponent Demian Fernandez has only one loss, but I can tell you right now he didn’t come all the way from Argentina to lose.”
DMITRIY SALITA, President of Salita Promotions
“October 5 is going to be a historic night of boxing. The WBO and WBC 154-pound world titles will be on the line when Claressa Shields takes on Ivana Habazin live on SHOWTIME right here at this arena in Flint, Michigan.
“The undercard is going to feature explosive fights with blue chip welterweight prospect Jaron Ennis, and Saginaw, Michigan’s Jermaine Franklin in separate bouts. This is going to be a fantastic night that the fans are going to remember for a long time.
“SHOWTIME has been instrumental in making sure that Claressa is fighting the best fights and getting the most exposure for the sport of women’s boxing.
“You should save your ticket stubs because you are going to want to show your grandkids that you were here in Flint to see Claressa Shields fight.”
MARK TAFFET, President of Taffet Media
“From the day she won gold to the day she turned pro, this is the place where Claressa always wanted to be, and it’s because of the support of everyone here and we thank you so much for that.
“When we made this fight, we knew that this was a historic fight. The opportunity to win a world title in a third weight division, faster than any fighter in history, is truly special.
“I have a lot of experience in this sport, and Claressa Shields is once in a lifetime. I wanted to help make the vision of Claressa Shields a reality. It is because of her that women’s boxing is reaching heights it has never before reached or imagined. She’s on the doorstep of achieving more history. It’s not that the sky is the limit, but there are no limits for Claressa.”
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ABOUT SHIELDS VS. HABAZIN
Undisputed Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields will aim to make history by becoming the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion when she takes on former world champion Ivana Habazin Saturday, October 5 live on SHOWTIME.
The showdown for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight and WBC Super Welterweight Titles headlines a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Dort Federal Event Center in Shields’ hometown of Flint, Mich.