“I’m not worried at all,” Claressa Shields says about her next opponent, Germany’s Nikki Adler (16-0). The fight will be Aug. 4 at the MGM Grand in Detroit. Geoff Robinson, Detroit News
Detroit — It takes a certain mentality to make it in the boxing world. There can be no doubt in the mind of the fighter that they are the alpha when they step into that ring.
Claressa Shields is that alpha. All you have to do is ask her.
“People are saying it’s too early and I’m not ready,” Shields said at her open training session Monday afternoon at Detroit Kronk Gym. “I’ve been the best in the world for a long time. Not just in the amateurs, but in my mind. I really can’t be beat, and I can’t wait to prove it.”
Despite just being three fights into her professional career after a decorated amateur career that produced two Olympic gold medals, Shields is already a champion, claiming the North American Boxing Federation middleweight title in March with a technical knockout of Szilvia Szabados.
Now comes the real test for the brash youngster from Flint, as she sets her sights on Germany’s Nikki Adler (16-0, 9 KOs), who currently holds the World Boxing Council 168-pound title. The showdown will be broadcast on Showtime on Aug. 4 at the MGM Grand in Detroit and also will be for the vacant IBF super middleweight title.
Facing a foe like Adler comes with new challenges for Shields, but she doesn’t seem to think she’ll encounter many problems with the undefeated champion.
“I’m not worried at all,” Shields said. “I always rise to the occasion. I never prepare for my opponents. I prepare as if I’m fighting myself. I know I’m hard to beat, so I’ll do great come (fight night).”
Claressa Shields talks about her fight against Nikki Adler on Aug. 4 at the MGM Grand in Detroit. She also discusses the differences between amateur and pro boxing. Geoff Robinson, Detroit News
Shields’ coach and trainer Jason Crutchfield is a little more cautious than his protégé entering the fight, but he still believes Adler is no match for Shields.
“We’ve just got to stick to our game plan,” Crutchfield said. “I’ve been watching Adler fight, and she’s a pretty decent fighter, but it’s nothing that I’m concerned with. I don’t think (Adler) has a real good defense or a lot of punching power.”
It’s clear that Shields is still a bit frustrated by the lack of sponsorship deals she’s received since winning her first gold medal in London in 2012. For Shields and her promoter, Dmitriy Salita, the upcoming fight with Adler is next step toward superstardom.
“When (the sponsors) catch up to how great I am, maybe I’ll get more sponsorships,” Shields said. “But until then, God will give me everything I need and desire as I go.”
“She’s going to be the face of women’s boxing,” Salita said. “She’s fighting for the world title on a major network and she’s only 22.”
“It’s very difficult to be successful and overcome the hardships that she’s overcome. But she’s the best in the world. She’s an inspiration, and based on what I see, she has the mental fortitude to withstand everything coming her way.”
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.