As the only member of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing teams to capture a Gold medal—doing so in both Games—it's only fitting that Claressa Shields becomes the first member of the graduating class to challenge for a world title in the pro ranks.
The two-time Olympic Gold medalist—already a dominant presence in the pro ranks just three fights into her career—will step way up in class as she challenges unbeaten super middleweight champ Nikki Adler in her first title shot. The unification bout will air live on Showtime's ShoBox: The New Generation series, taking place August 4 at the MGM Grand Detroit in Detroit, Michigan.
It will mark the third straight appearance in Motor City for Shields, a 22-year old from Flint, Michigan. The night will also mark her first bout scheduled for more than eight rounds as well as the first-ever female title fight to headline a U.S. premium cable boxing program.
"It is a dream come true for me to be fighting for a major world title in just my fourth professional fight," said Shields (3-0, 1KO), who continues to make history in an already storied boxing career between her amateur and pro run. "I thank the champ, Nikki Adler, and her team for accepting the challenge and for coming to the U.S. for this championship."
Shields—who went 77-1 in an amateur career that included her becoming the first ever U.S. boxer to win back-to-back Olympic Gold medals in International competition—has remained steady since entering the pros last November. Her paid debut came on the freeview portion of an HBO Pay-Per-View telecast topped by one of her boxing idols, 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and former super middleweight king Andre Ward who edged Sergey Kovalev in their first fight to win three light heavyweight crowns.
Less than four months later, she added yet another historic footnote in becoming the first female boxer ever to top a live telecast on Showtime. That moment came in a 4th round knockout of former champ Szilvia Szabados—whom Adler bested over 10 rounds to win the super middleweight in July '15—this past March at the very same venue that will host her first crack at a major pro title. She's since added a four-round decision win over Sydney LeBlanc earlier this month, an off-TV bout that marked her debut under the promotional banner of former super lightweight contender Dmitry Salita.
Now they get to pursue a major title together.
"I am thrilled to be promoting what I expect will be the biggest women's boxing event of 2017," notes Salita, whose lone world title shot during his 12-year pro career ended in a knockout loss to then-140 lb. titlist Amir Khan. "Claressa Shields is on a quest to make history and is seeking to become a world champion in only her fourth professional bout less than a year after winning her second Olympic Gold Medal.
"Shields vs. Adler is the kind of matchup we expect from great fighters. These two women, both skilled, both determined, are certain to give fans around the world, and those watching on ShoBox, an action-packed fight that is fought at the highest level. It will be a night to remember where the sports world may see the emergence of a new star."
Of course, the defending champion plans to have her say as she has no intention of traveling from halfway around the world just to roll over and put her title on a silver platter.
"It's a huge opportunity to fight in the U.S. on SHOWTIME against Claressa Shields," said Adler (16-0, 9KOs), a 30-year old Croatian fighting out of Germany who attempts the second defense of the title in addition to making her U.S. debut. "I am the multiple-time world champion and Claressa is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist - why not fight in the biggest matchup possible?
"This is a great challenge and we both will show our true potential. I know I'll give everything I have to be successful, as I have always done. I've fought throughout the world, but never in the U.S. It's really a dream to fight in the biggest women's boxing event in 2017."
It's the one thing upon which both champion and challenger agree.
"This fight is not only a milestone for me, it also is the biggest fight of the year in women's boxing," notes Shields. "I want to thank SHOWTIME for their commitment to me and for their support of women's boxing. I promise to be in the best shape of my life and to give all my fans a performance to remember."