Inside the Jab

Claressa Shields – we meet the GWOAT

Claressa Shields is a double Olympic champion (London 2012 and Rio 2016).

Claressa Shields is an undefeated professional boxer. She is The Ring magazine 160lbs middleweight champion, holds four world sanctioning belts, is an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter and, in her opinion, is the GWOAT – the Greatest Woman Of All Time, in a fistic sense.

Claressa Shields (11-0, 2 KO’s) is undoubtedly a boxing superstar.

Next Saturday (5th Feb) she returns to the UK, her first visit since the London Olympics, to defend her professional world titles and legacy. She will meet Slovenia’s Ema Kozin (21-0-1, 11 KO’s) as chief support on the big BOXXER card from Cardiff, Wales and shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. The main event features world middleweight contenders Chris Eubank Jr versus Liam Williams.

Claressa Shields is from Flint, Michigan, USA – Floyd Mayweather country – she has a back story that includes overcoming child abuse and prejudice to achieve her goals. She has traveled the world as an elite amateur, she currently trains in ‘The Money Team’ gym in Las Vegas and is the epitome of an American sporting success story.

She is held in the highest regard among both male and female elite level boxers. She bows to no one, knows her worth and what she wants to achieve. She plans to win world titles from 10st,7/147lbs (welterweight) up to 12st,7/175lbs (light-heavyweight) and seal her claim as the GWOAT.

On Wednesday she dialled in from the US to a video press conference on the BOXXER media platform joined by her Salita Promotions team. Her opponent Ema Kozin also dialled in.

Claressa was eloquent, confident and determined. “I’m excited to come back to the UK to show my skills. You have great fans and great crowds. I’m really looking forward to experiencing that”. With regards to the fight ahead and responding to her detractors she continued “I mean business – anyone who talks trash to me, I wanna punch them in the face”.

Claressa Shields is a fighter, and a damn good one at that.

She is also a student of the game, a role model and advocate for female boxing. “All the women in boxing – Katie (Taylor), Amanda Serrano are all playing a big part (in promoting women’s boxing) by taking big fights…every boxing card needs to have women on it”.

When questioned on her opposition Saturday week she showed respect, but was circumspect with it. She recognised the good KO record Kozin brings to the ring but questioned the quality of the opposition faced, compared to her own. “She hasn’t fought those great challengers…I’ve been (in) with the top”. Expanding “She’s gonna have to deal with the new power and speed I bring”.

The quietly spoken but equally confident Slovenian responded “She doesn’t know me as she thinks she does”. Concluding, Kozin said “I wish Claressa good luck – I think the world will want to know me after this fight – I expect a brutal fight, a tough ten rounds”.

Shields in closing responded “I’m gonna destroy you on February 5th…I’m gonna make you call me the GWOAT !”

After my first 45 minutes in Claressa Shields company I was impressed. Her knowledge of the sport and her contemporaries was exemplary. She is rightly confident in her ability and the legacy she has already created, but also recognises the challenges to her throne and ambitions.

The main challenger in her immediate cross-hairs is former GB Olympian Savannah Marshall (10-0, 8 KO’s). That is the dream fight in the middleweight division and her showcasing in Cardiff is to build for that mega-fight. There has been much recent exchange between the two on social media, mainly derogatory, and there is unfinished business from the amateur days.

Marshall fights again shortly after to likely leave the two standing alone. Shields put on record “I win, she wins, we fight”. Provided the expected happens a week Saturday that is the one to look out for.

Ema Kozin meanwhile aims to spoil the party. On February 5th watch her try. It should be interesting.

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