Photo Credit: Terell Groggins / My Art My Rules
“I’m always ready for a fight,” says Claressa Shields as she calmly stated in a One-on-One interview with Michigan Chronicle. Shields, Shields, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 13-time world champ, and 3-time undisputed is ready for anyone or anything that comes her way.
Shields, a Flint native has been training relentlessly for the much anticipated rematch between herself and Hanna Gabriel, June 3rd at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
“I feel like I’m in my backyard. It’s going to feel like home when everybody from Flint, Detroit, and all over America come to this fight.”
When the expected rematch was nearly two weeks away, news broke of Gabriel testing positive for a banned substance. The unfolding development about Shields’ opponent happening moments before our interview.
“As with all my undisputed championship, I make it my business to sign up for Vada testing,” said Shields. “It’s random drug testing to make sure me and my opponent plays by the rules.”
Shields had wrapped up training at Superbad Gym in Detroit, preparing to throw blows on Gabriel in the coming days before the unexpected announcement.
“With boxing, I’m putting my life on the line already, so I don’t want to put my life on the line with somebody taking steroids or somebody using a drug, enhancement to give them the edge over me.”
“I take pride in being a clean fighter.”
The two last fought in 2017 at Masonic Temple in Detroit and were scheduled to fight at Little Caesar’s Arena for the June 3rd title of undisputed middleweight championship.
Shields, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 13-time world champ, and 3-time undisputed is now scheduled to box Marcicela Cornejo.
“She (Cornejo) was preparing for a fight herself and she has way more fights than me …she’s had five close decision losses, she’s fought for a world championship and she come up short every time. She’s been waiting on her opportunity to get her chance against me and now we’re here.
Despite the change in opponent, that isn’t slowing Shields’ preparation or motivation. She says moments before a fight, she more excited than anything else to show her skills to her beloved fans.
“This is only going to show me how great I am to figure someone out with less time.”
“I don’t get the gitter bugs or butterflies when it comes to a fight. I’m actually excited and want to do. Preparation for this has been different than all my other camps.
She says she thought her previous camp with Savannah Marshall would be harder because of her size, including her stats of 12-0, 10 knock outs, and the predictions of Shields being knocked out by such opponent. But for Shields, every category of challenge has only been added motivation to work even harder.
“I thought I would train my hardest for that camp and this fight was announced (Shields-Gabriels) and I got into training camp and I believe half way through .. I said I’m definitely working harder than I worked last camp.”
“I think it just comes with being the best, that you just challenge yourself to work harder than you worked before.”
What does the work and preparation look like? Shields describes sprinting, taking ice baths, conducting pullups, push ups, squats, crunches, and a variety of other physical measures to get herself in in shape and ready physically and mentally.
In addition to her grit and celebrity status, she never forgets home and continues to call attention to the water situation in her hometown city of Flint which remains an ongoing issue amongst residents.
“I’ve always represented the flyst city, that’s why I’m wearing the blue hair, because we still have the water crisis going on, and I want everybody to still ship those pallets of water … because we still need it.”
Despite her fame, Shields wants to be an inspiration to youth. She’s leading a Night of A Thousand Stars initiative to invite a thousand kids who live in Flint, Saginaw, Pontiac, and Detroit areas to come watch her at the big the fight.
“I want them to know that it could be them. I think representation is everything so being a young girl from Flint who grew up poor, who grew up in poverty, sexually abused, and didn’t have such a great up bringing, but GOD put me in this position to be who I am and what I am.”
“He didn’t put me in this position to say I’m a great boxer, he wants to me to inspire those who feel hopeless, who feel faithless, people who feel they can’t make it out.”