Shields to fight for vacant 154-pound title in Aug. 17 return

1136954031.jpg.0 - Shields to fight for vacant 154-pound title in Aug. 17 return

Shields will fight for a 154-pound title in her hometown.

Claressa Shields will look to become a three-division titleholder when she returns to action on Aug. 17 in her hometown of Flint, Michigan, facing Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBO 154-pound title in a Showtime main event.

Shields (9-0, 2 KO) has already won titles at 168 and 160. In almost all cases, fighters move up in weight to collect belts in various divisions, but on the women’s side things get a little weirder. Shields is moving down division-by-division, and then you have a case like Amanda Serrano, who has won titles in seven divisions. In order of attaining the belts, Serrano has picked up titles at 130, 135, 126, 122, 118, 140, and 115.

Shields, 24, won a pair of Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016, and has dominated as a pro. She picked up her first two world titles in her fourth pro outing, beating Nikki Adler to win the WBC and IBF 168-pound titles in Aug. 2017. 10 months later, Shields moved down to 160 and won the vacant IBF and WBA titles against Hanna Gabriels. She picked up the WBC belt with a win over Hannah Rankin in Nov. 2018, then fully unified the division by routing Christina Hammer on April 13.

With this next fight, Shields will attempt to become a three-division champion faster than anyone in boxing history ever has, by doing it in her 10th pro fight. This will also be her first professional fight in Flint.

“It’s hard to even put into words how excited I am to be returning home as undisputed champion and fighting in front of all my fans in Flint,” said Shields. “And having the opportunity to become world champion in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history will make August 17 a night I will cherish forever. It’s another big step forward in lifting women’s boxing on the road to equality.”

Habazin (20-3, 7 KO) doesn’t figure to be any great challenge for Shields, in all honesty. The 29-year-old Croatian turned pro in 2010 and while she did briefly hold a welterweight title in 2014, she’s 1-3 in title fights overall. She lost a title bout to Eva Bajic in 2013, then beat Sabrina Giuliani for the vacant IBF 147-pound title in2014, losing it six months later to Cecilia Braekhus.

In 2016, she fought Mikaela Lauren for the WBC 154-pound title, and was stopped in three. She’s won five straight since then, against opposition with a combined record of 28-27-2. The most recent win came against Eva Bajic; the optimistic thing to say there is that she avenged her first pro loss, but that doesn’t take into account that Bajic had lost three straight and eight of 11 coming into that fight, and has lost another two since, turning into a sub-.500 journeywoman for her career.

The fight with Shields will be Habazin’s U.S. debut.

“I’m honored to fight on Showtime and to be making my debut in the U.S.,” said Habazin. “It’s a dream come true and this is a huge chance for me to prove that I am one of boxing’s elite fighters. I will not let this opportunity pass. I’m not just coming to the U.S. to fight, I’m coming for victory.

“I’m actually a big fan of Claressa. She made history for women’s boxing and will be a great opponent for me. She’s very confident in herself, she’s aggressive, she can move, she has speed and good defense. But I have all of this too, and I can punch. I can’t wait to see what she is made of. They said her fight against Hammer was the biggest of all time, but I think this one will be the greatest ever.”

The fight will be another “Showtime Boxing: Special Edition” rather than “Showtime Championship Boxing.”

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