Claressa Shields says having a mentality of „everyone wants me to lose“ will help her prepare for her world title defence against Ema Kozin in Cardiff on Saturday, February 5, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Speaking from Detroit near her hometown of Flint on Wednesday, Shields welcomed media ahead of her UK debut as a professional next month, where she will defend her WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles, as the co-main event alongside the all-British grudge match between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Williams.
Shields, 26, has yet to lose in 11 fights as a professional boxer, though she did suffer an MMA defeat in October, losing to Abigail Montes in her second fight in the sport.
That defeat was the first time Shields has lost any sort of contest since an amateur fight with British boxer Savannah Marshall in 2012 – the source of a rivalry that is expected to be settled this year, and who Shields has had more words for.
„The boxing world has forgotten who the best female fighter is since I’ve been doing MMA,“ Shields said. „The other girls like Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor have been showcasing some great skills, but I’m planning to showcase even better skills in my fight on February 5.
„I hope Savannah Marshall shows up at the fight. She can jump up in the ring after I win and talk some stuff. But talking doesn’t win fights, training does. She’s going to see a great performance and I’m going to prove that I haven’t been running from her. We’ve been chasing her.
„I’m looking forward to coming back and showcasing my skills. In my last fight, I was coming off over a year lay-off and I didn’t perform how I wanted to. When I watch back the film, I wasn’t sharp. I didn’t have the speed and the timing that I normally have.
„I feel like I have to dominate in every fight. Not only am I in her territory, but I have the mentality that everyone wants me to lose. That’s why I go out and smash these girls and make them hold on for dear life.“
Slovenian Kozin, Shields’ opponent on February 5, is also undefeated as a professional, having won 21 of 22 bouts to date – drawing once vs Mexico’s Irais Hernandez, who Kozin beat in a re-match.
„This is my first time fighting in another country professionally, but I’ve fought in at least 10 different countries already. I won gold medals in London and in Rio. I’ve been everywhere,“ Shields added.
„She’s [Kozin] got a lot of pro experience. I like it. I’ve already dethroned fighters with a lot of experience anyway. I give her credit for working her way up from the bottom to become my mandatory. I’m going to show her that she hasn’t fought anyone like me.“
Shields’ promoter Dmitriy Salita added: „This fight on February 5 is leading toward the biggest women’s boxing match of all time between Claressa and Savannah Marshall. It was great to have media support both locally and nationally today and looking forward to a great night on February 5.
„Claressa has fought in sold-out venues here in Michigan and now she’s going overseas, but fans in Michigan and throughout the U.S. and Canada will be able to see her on pay-per-view. It’s a perfect opportunity for sports fans to continue to follow Claressa on her journey of greatness.
„Claressa is going to be up against a very tough, skilled and undefeated number one contender in Ema Kozin. She’s young and hungry and she’s going to bring the very best to the table. It’s a very stern test for Claressa before she gets in there with Marshall.“
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
Sunday January 30 – Top Rank in Tulsa
Robson Conceicao vs Xavier Martinez – WBC super-featherweight title eliminator
Saturday February 5 – BOXXER in Cardiff
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin – IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles
Saturday February 19 – BOXXER in Manchester
Amir Khan vs Kell Brook
Frazer Clarke’s pro debut
Saturday February 26 – BOXXER and Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight titles
Saturday March 5 – Top Rank in Fresno
Jose Ramirez vs Jose Pedraza