Rivals Claressa Shields and Franchon Crews Battle as Pros in Las Vegas
Straight out of Rio comes America’s top amateur boxer Claressa Shields eager to make a splashy pro debut against another amateur standout Franchon Crews making her pro debut as well in the boxing capital of Las Vegas.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields (0-0) meets former U.S. National champion Crews (0-0) at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday Nov. 19. The female fight will be televised on the free-per-view telecast that precedes the HBO pay-per-view.
Shields crashed the Olympic party in Rio with a dominating performance that saw her slice through international competition like a Japanese samurai blade through a crop of tall weeds. Four years earlier she smashed the competition like a runaway tractor.
But what to do in-between Olympics was the problem.
“I was thinking about myself, about my legacy. The Olympics were huge but I would disappear for four more years. Nobody would see my fights for four more years,” said Shields by telephone. “I wanted people to see me now instead of disappearing.”
Though many felt she could repeat as a gold medal winner in 2020, new rules by AIBA made it possible to fight as a pro and still compete in the Olympics.
“Unless you were actually there (at her amateur fights) nobody would see my amateur career,” Shields added. “I just wanted to stay relevant. Going pro was the answer.”
Most Olympians take a slow track into the pro world and take baby steps when it comes to facing opponents. Olympians like Oscar De La Hoya who fought Jeff Mayweather in only his fifth pro fight and never fought anyone with a losing record are the exception. That’s where Shields wants to be—an exception.
Facing Shields will be Crews who was the U.S. National champion before the Michigan boxer came along. She was an alternate on the 2012 Olympic boxing team that went to London. She is very familiar with Shields and has stated publicly that this fight is number one on her wish list.
Crews, 29, has won 10 national titles beginning in 2005 from light middleweight to light heavyweight. After dominating the amateur scene for almost 10 years it seemed like an after-thought that an Olympic bid would be hers. But then Shields came along.
When word spread that Shields turned pro and was looking for a capable foe and not an easy touch, the pro ranks including several contenders shook their heads at the offer. Crews eagerly told anyone that would listen that she would take the offer.
It could be revenge or it could be a repeat. Whatever the outcome it will be competitive.
“Franchon Crews has an outstanding amateur background. She was at the top of the division before Claressa came along,” said Mark Taffet who co-manages Shields. “Claressa knows it is a real challenge.”
Taffet, who formerly worked for HBO as a senior vice-president and who created the pay-per-view model used by HBO, was impressed by Shields pure fighting skills and charisma. It was a combination that lured him to take a good look at the Flint, Michigan super athlete.
“She works all day with the media and she carries herself incredibly well. I’m very optimistic about her future,” said Taffet. “I haven’t seen her fight inside the ring but she has the combinations for a successful career.”
It’s a moment that female prizefighters have been waiting for to happen. Both Taffet and Shields are full aware of the scenario.
“I know I can be one of the big stars in boxing,” said Shields. “
“She’s on a mission to lead the resurgence of women’s boxing,” said Taffet. “She is not going to stop until women’s boxing returns to prominence and at a level it never reached before.”
More Female Fight News
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Ericka Rousseau (10-0) defeated Ainara Mota (1-1) by decision after six rounds in a featherweight match that took place on Saturday Nov. 12, in Lormont, France.
Pauline Leconte (1-1) won her pro debut over Valentina Keri (0-2) by decision after four rounds in their lightweight contest that took place on Saturday Nov. 12, in Ham, France.
Maiva Hamadouche (14-1) captured the vacant IBF super featherweight title by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Jennifer Salinas (19-4). The world title fight took place on Thursday Nov. 10, in Paris, France. Hamadouche, 27, fights out of France. Salinas, 34, fights out of Providence, Rhode Island USA.
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On Saturday Nov. 19, bantamweights Angelique Hernandez (1-1) and Valgerdur Gudstensdottir meet in a four round fight in Haninge, Sweden.
On Friday Nov. 18, super bantamweights Pamela Treand (4-0) meets Claudia Ferenczi (13-53-6) in a six round bout in Carouge, Switzerland. Treand fights out of Switzerland and Ferenczi fights out of Slovakia.
On Friday Nov. 18, in Las Vegas, Nevada a bout between light flyweights features Marina Ramirez (2-0) versus Natalie Gonzalez (2-0) meet in a four round bout.
On Saturday Nov. 19, super middleweight amateur standouts Claressa Shields and Franchon Crews make their pro debuts against each other in a four round bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. For more on this read the story above.