Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall got pretty fiery at today’s final press conference, but arguably they were nothing compared to the heat between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner.
Shields (12-0, 2 KO) and Marshall (12-0, 10 KO) will meet for the undisputed middleweight championship in a long-awaited score-settler that dates back 10 years, while Mayer (17-0, 5 KO) and Baumgardner (12-1, 7 KO) will fight for three belts in the junior lightweight division in a grudge that has blossomed over the last year and change.
Here’s what the fighters had to say — when they weren’t shouting over one another — at today’s presser.
“I think when you work hard and put in extra work with more time, and know you’ve done your homework, that’s what builds confidence. People have fake confidence where they don’t work hard and just show up to sell the fight, but I know what I’m capable of and what I’m going to do.”
“Of course, she’s gonna talk about her punching power, she’s gonna try to come out there and land big shots. She may fight on the inside, she may want to fight on the outside, but she wants to just be able to touch me and land. That’s really all I see, but it’s a boxing match. I may get hit in there, but if she thinks she’s not gonna get hit, she’s mistaken. If she thinks she’s still a better boxer than me from 10 years ago, she’s mistaken. But we’re gonna let her think whatever she wants to think and do whatever she wants to do. I’m gonna adapt and do whatever I have to do to win and make the fight easy.”
“You cannot live off something that happened 10 years ago. We’ve both been pro five years, and I’m a 12-time world champ. Oh my God. Stop! Stop!”
“I’m gonna finish you. I don’t like you that much. You’ve had one hard training camp and now you think you’re ready? Why didn’t you sign the contract in 2018 if you were ready? ... We sent you an offer and you turned it down.”
“Knockouts don’t matter, wins matter, and you know that. ... Boxing is not about knockouts! I’m going to beat you whether I knock you out or not.”
“Call me David in the lion’s den, I’m gonna walk out with her head. I’m not worried about Savannah Marshall. I came over here, I’m a star in America — don’t get it twisted, I didn’t have to come over here! As soon as Eddie Hearn said he didn’t have Savannah Marshall no more, we started talking to Boxxer and said, ‘Let’s make this fight happen.’ Nobody was ever running from her or scared to come over here. I’m about that.”
“While you’re doing all this talking, you better come in there with that smoke, and you better punch as hard as you say you can, because if you ain’t got no punching power, oh my God, it’s going to be a hard night for you.”
“She’s a bum and I’m gonna show everyone that there’s skills to this, there’s levels. I’m not about to play with her. She thinks I’m still 17, girl I’m 27, you’re about to learn. You’re about to get schooled. I’m about to Sugar Ray Leonard her.”
“I think she comes up short. I believe I’m the better boxer than Claressa and always have been. I cannot wait. It cannot come quick enough. We had a 12-week camp, five-week (delay), and I’m just itching to get in there. If anything, (the delay) helped ticket sales. It’s one of those things that can’t be helped, you just get on with it. It’s just made me more hungry, really.”
“I reckon she can try to knock me out. But if you’ve got it, you’ve got it, if you haven’t, you haven’t. It is what it is. ... If you land on them and hurt them, they go down. If you land with pillow-fists, they’re not gonna go anywhere. You couldn’t knock Ema Kozin out, you couldn’t knock Hannah Rankin out. ... You’re 12-0 as a pro and you haven’t learned to finish anyone? That’s concerning. You haven’t learned to finish anyone.”
“100 percent, (knockouts matter to me). Of course they do. I’ve rather have an early night than 10 rounds. I’m gonna wreck Claressa, she knows this. I’m gonna wreck her. Hurt her.”
“Claressa, you’ve tried to intimidate at least 50 percent of the people in this room with your bully mentality.”
“There’s nothing left to say. I can’t wait. Let’s just get it on.”
“Obviously, this is huge for me. I’ve said from the beginning that I want to go undisputed, which is the reason I’ve called out Alycia and all the champions. I think that I’ve been pushing for the biggest fights possible, but honestly, I don’t think you could have put together a card like this five years ago. It shows how far women’s boxing has come.”
“She’s said a lot of things. I’m boring, I’m flat-footed, I look the same as I did in the amateurs. To me, that just shows her ring IQ. She talks trash about the fight I had with (Maiva) Hamadouche, again, just shows her ring IQ, that she’s talking about the women’s fight of the year. I know that I’ve improved. I’m constantly improving.”
“How I’ve been raised and trained by Coach Al, it’s very strategic. We go in there with a cool head and we execute what we’ve been working on in the gym. He hates all this hype. He’s sitting here shaking his head at this whole thing, he wants to get to the gym. We have to go to the gym after this, and that’s what he’s focused on. My team keeps me cool, they keep me calm and focused on the goal.”
“I’m expecting the performance of my life. ... I still don’t even feel like I’ve hit my peak. I want to put it all together in this fight. I want to embarrass her, I want to make her sound stupid, because she’s said a lot leading up to this fight.
“The truth is, whether she likes me or not, likes the way I fight or not, on paper, I am her absolute biggest test. I’m a multiple-time world champion, I’m an Olympian, I’ve defended my belts multiple times, 17 wins — she has not fought anyone with my type of resume. She has to admit that, own that, accept that, and I hope she trained for that.”
“I believe I want it more. I’m sure she believes she wants it more, too. But listen, she doesn’t have much to lose. She just showed up on the scene, if she goes somewhere, no one’s going to miss her. I have a lot to prove, because I’ve been running this division a long time. That’s why she’s so mad at me; I’ve been running this division for almost 10 years now, I’m not just talking about the pros, I’m talking about the amateurs. She’s known my name, she’s been coming for my name for a long time. I have a lot to prove, I have worked extremely hard to get to this position, and I’m not gonna let her take it away from me.”
“I’ve said it all. I have nothing else to say. I’m ready to go, step in the ring and get this done.”
“This fight is just amazing for women’s boxing. This is what we’ve been waiting to have. The entertainment is at an all-time high. This is what is building the sport of women’s boxing. You have two women who don’t care for each other and are ready to bang it out Saturday night, and it’s real.”
“My confidence is triggered by her. Every one of her opponents she’s fought has come to fight her and go back home. Now she has a fighter in front of her who’s willing to fight her, who’s telling her what it is, that I will beat her, that I will break her jaw. I’m in her face and she does not like it. This is confidence we’re dealing with, it’s not anger. I’m a competitor at heart. I’ve been doing this sport since I was eight years old. I’m excited.”
“I’ve been claiming it, speaking about it, letting her know each and every day, from when we accepted this fight, that I was coming after her and I will beat her.”
“That’s great, all those attributes she listed, but it doesn’t matter. A fighter like me will beat that, and that’s going to be embarrassing on her record, that someone who came out of the woodwork, became a world champion, doesn’t have experience, this or that, is going to beat her.”
“There’s no respect. At the end of the day, this is the fight game. This girl is trying to beat me, I want to beat her. I have great sportsmanship, but I don’t respect her. She talks too much, and when someone talks too much, you’ve got to shut them up, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Little old Alycia Baumgardner, ‘The Bomb,’ coming into her backyard to beat her. She doesn’t like it. It’s triggering. She understands it’s a tough pill to swallow, that I’m going to beat her. It’s just gonna be great.”
“I’m excited to be in this moment. The fight with Terri Harper was just a fraction of who I am. I have progressed daily. As an athlete, I’m always progressing, I’m never the same fighter. My skill-set has been added on to, I have world-class trainers and a great team behind me. I have people who believe in me, and I believe in myself. It’s different when you believe in yourself, and I believe what I can do, what I can achieve. I’m ready to put it all out there. I’ve prepared very well for this fight.”