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Claressa Shields: Women’s boxing is going somewhere

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Claressa Shields faces Hanna Gabriels this Friday on Showtime.

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

CLARESSA SHIELDS

“It’s been seven weeks of really hard work. A lot of people don’t know and I really don’t like to be open about it, but I got to 183 pounds after my last fight in January and now I’m 160. That’s 23 pounds. I was in camp running and getting ready for the fight and having to focus on weight was very different for me.

“I feel good and ready to go. I’m happy that she made it in safe and all that but now I’m just excited. You all know how I get before fights. The champ is here.

“So much has changed since I first turned pro. In my first fight, I was frustrated against Franchon (Crews Dezurn) during our fight. I was frustrated throughout camp and I really couldn’t handle everything that was going on. Now I know how to handle the media, the workouts, the interviews and still remain disciplined. The fact that I had to lose so much weight this camp only added more discipline.

“It makes me so happy and it just touches my heart to see four female fighters on the main fight poster. I was so happy that they decided to put them on TV. They have put me on before but it’s always been my goal to put other women on so when they decided to put Tori Nelson and Christina Hammer on I was so excited because this has never been done before. Women’s boxing is going somewhere.

“I always knew that it would take me to turn professional for women’s boxing to go to a higher level. That’s why I waited to win a second Gold Medal before I turned professional. To be the one to be the leader is special. I feel like I go out there every fight and give my best and show that I can box better than 90 percent of the men that box. If you have a choice to make a man the main event or me the main event, I always want them to choose me.

“There’s always mutual respect between me and my opponents. I’m thankful for them because I can’t do this by myself. I thank Hanna for stepping up and it’s mutual respect until Friday. I start getting really mean on Thursday, Friday is the fight and then after that we can exchange numbers and be friends.

“I expect her to use her gifts. She’s really good on her legs and she’s strong up top. I think she lacks in speed so I expect her to try to counter me and try to force me to make mistakes with her movement. I think she underrates my power.

“I never said that I wanted to get more knockouts. I’m perfectly fine being 5-0 with two knockouts. At the end of the day, I’m fine with that. The longer I’m in the ring boxing, the better. The more they get to see me on TV, that’s fine. Of course I would love to get the big knockout but look how disappointed Errol Spence Jr. was to get such a quick knockout of Ocampo. That didn’t please his fans. If the knockout comes, it comes.

“This will be my toughest fight. She’s the most skilled and has the most experience. She’s a three-time world champion. I’ve fought former world champions but she’s a three-time world champion to date. The girl that beat her, Hanna avenged that loss. I’m looking forward to her coming out and putting 100 percent in and I hope for us to have a great fight.

“I’m always confident going into fights. I’m not leaving the ring without having two new belts.”