Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin have been hard at work training for their upcoming world title fight this weekend, but now there is a lot more at stake.
Organizers of the bout announced on Wednesday that the fight will have an extra
belt up for grabs, meaning the winner will be the unified champion.
"We are delighted that the fight will now be for both the WBC and WBO world championships," promoter Dmitriy Salita said. "Claressa is aiming for historic nights every time she gets into the ring and it is exciting that the victor of the fight on Saturday will be a unified 154-pound world champion."
Shields, a former unified super middleweight titlist and the defending undisputed middleweight world champion, is moving down in weight to 154-pounds to take on Habazin on Saturday (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) at Dort Federal Event Center in Shields' hometown of Flint, Michigan.
If Shields (9-0, 2 KO’s), 24, beats Habazin (20-3, 7 KO’s), 29, of Croatia, she will set the record for winning world titles in three weight classes in the least number of fights.
Shields considers herself as the Greatest Woman of All-Time (GWOT) and if she pulls off the feat, her argument certainly has more merit.
Unified lightweight world titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko needed 12 fights to win a world title in his third-division. He knocked out Jorge Linares in the 10th round of their May 2018 135-pound world title unification at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"I want to show everybody that I'm a truly great fighter," said Shields, who became the women’s undisputed middleweight in a one-sided unanimous decision over Christina Hammer in April. “I can beat Vasiliy Lomachenko's record of winning titles in three divisions in 10 fights instead of 12. Plus, I'm going backwards, not going up in weight, where there are better challenges for me.
"My performances will lead to bigger fights and bigger purses for me and my opponents. I'm just going to keep building my name and building my brand. With this fight against Habazin, I'm definitely going in looking for the knockout. If I get it in spectacular fashion, that will go viral and help push my career forward."
The fight was originally tabbed the Aug. 17, but was postponed after Shields dislocated her right knee in late June. fight, which was originally scheduled for Aug. 17 in Flint before Shields dislocated her right knee in late June.
"It means everything to have this fight back in my hometown," Shields said. "I want to be the good news for Flint and make people smile. I'm happy to be bringing a fight back home while I'm still on top. I feel like Flint will be uplifted by that."
Habazin, a former welterweight world titlist, has won five fights in a row since suffering a third-round stoppage at the hands of Mikaela Lauren in April 2016. However, two of those five have come against boxers with no wins on their professional resume. She will have to be on top of her game against Shields.
"This is a really big opportunity for me," Habazin said. "I was a world champion and I'm looking forward to winning a title in another division. Claressa Shields is a spectacular fighter and I have respect for her, but I'm going to bring the fight to her. I didn't come here just to fight; I came here for victory." She said fighting in Shields' hometown is of no concern.
"I really don't think about that the fight is in Flint," she said. "It's not something important for me, where the fight is. For me, the only important thing is to win, and she's the biggest name right now in women's boxing and I want to beat her, that's all, because I have 10 years in boxing and it wasn't easy. My world was really tough and right now maybe it's the last opportunity to do something big and I take it seriously."
Highly-touted 147-pound prospect Jaron "Boots" Ennis (23-0, 21 KO’s), 22, of Philadelphia, will also appear on the card.
He will face Demian Daniel Fernandez (12-1, 5 KO’s), 30, of Argentina.