Claressa Shields takes aim at championship history in Flint

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
Claressa Shields poses for photographers with her opponent, Ivana Habazin, and promoter Dmitriy Salita, CEO of Salita Promotions, on Wednesday in Detroit.

Flint – There’s no such thing as making too much history – just ask Flint native and undisputed middleweight world champion boxer Claressa Shields.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist on Wednesday was back in her hometown to promote an Oct. 5 junior middleweight with former welterweight world champion Ivana Habazin that could make Shields the first triple-division champion in women’s boxing history. The bout will take place at Dort Federal Events Center in Flint.

The fight was originally scheduled for Aug. 17 but was postponed due to Shields suffering a knee injury in training.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Flint for the fight and really embracing the city,” Shields said. “To be here now as a pro with two Olympic gold medals, all my belts and my who team here, it just feels really good.

“Our city has gone through tough times with the water crisis, but I wanted to show that we’re still a fighting people.”

The news conference at Dort was the first of three media appearances made by Shields on the day. The two fighters traveled to Detroit for a similar conference at Hotel St. Regis before Shields threw out the first pitch at Wednesday night’s Tigers game.

“This is a big deal for Flint,” Flint mayor Karen Weaver said. “I want to thank Claressa for what she is doing. She’s been saying she wants to have a fight at home, and home wants you to have a fight here.”

Claressa Shields throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Tigers vs. Mariners game at Comerica Park on Wednesday night.

Shields predicted she’d defeat her Croatian opponent via knockout. Her last fight, an easy decision over undefeated Christina Hammer, came on April 13. Shields believes her next opponent is cut from a similar cloth as her last.

“She’s going to be in defense mode, I think,” Shields said. “If she thinks she’s going to stand there and go blow for blow with me, she’s crazy.”

Dmitry Salita, president of Salita promotions, said he plans to stack the card with Michigan-based fighters to make Oct. 5 a community-wide event, and that Shields turned down the chance for her fight to take place in Las Vegas or New York.

“We had offers from around the country to host this fight,” Salita said. “Claressa was very focused on bringing a fight back home to Flint. This is going to be a great night for the city.”