Claressa Shields & Tori Nelson Ready to Blow Torch Each Other
By David A. Avila
Tracing the steps of the great American female fighter you have to go back to Christy Martin and the impact she made on the American fan during the 1990s.
Now we have Claressa Shields.
Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) has steamrolled her way to two super middleweight world titles and defends them this Friday Jan. 12, against undefeated Tori Nelson (17-0-3, 2 Kos). Their WBC and IBF world title clash takes place at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York. Showtime will televise.
Not by accident will Showtime be the network providing this epic brawl between Shields and Nelson. Back in March 1996, the female boxer known as the “Coalminer’s Daughter” slugged it out with Deirdre Gogarty with Showtime televising the event. Fans were captivated.
It’s this same appeal that Shields carries like a mega torch wherever and whenever she fights.
Nelson doesn’t carry the same recognition factor as Shields. But in her Virginia area the middleweight slugger has out-fought nearly every opposition placed in front of her. Though 41-years-old she has targeted the mighty Shields for a showdown ever since the former Olympian donned professional boxing gloves.
“Ever since Claressa turned pro I wanted this fight,” Nelson said.
After igniting the Las Vegas night with a riveting slugfest against Franchon Crews in November 2016, Shields then opened up the year 2017 with a dominating performance against Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados to win the NABF middleweight title by technical knockout in March. She then blew by Sydney LeBlanc by eight-round decision in June.
In the heat of summer, Detroit, Michigan saw Shields challenge undefeated WBC super middleweight Nikki Adler for the world title. The IBF title was also added as an extra prize. What the world saw that August night was the two-time Olympic gold medalist putting on a bravura performance in dismantling Adler with remarkable ease. The referee kindly stopped the fight in the fifth round.
Shields, 22, has that mix of God-given athleticism and years of training in boxing gyms to polish fighting skills that have led her to dominance as an amateur and now as a professional.
“I want to prove I’m the best fighter there ever was,” said Shields after her win for the WBC and IBF world titles. “I’ll fight whoever is out there.”
The ever-ready Shields does not pick and choose opponents, she merely fights whoever it put in front of her. It’s refreshing.
“Claressa’s determination to challenge the best available contenders shows why she is one of the most accomplished fighters in the sport today,” promoter Dmitriy Salita said. “This is a great matchup and I am confident that we will witness another memorable performance.”
Can Nelson stop the tidal wave that is Shields?
“I know I’m the underdog, but I’ve dropped nine people. She hasn’t scored one knockdown yet as a pro,” said Nelson on Thursday who weighed 164 3/4 pounds.
Shields begs to differ.
“She doesn’t think I throw hard punches,” said Shields who weighed 167 pounds. “Speed is power. She doesn’t get that.”
This is the best matchup for Shields since her fiery pro debut against Franchon Crews on November 2016. Just like in that fight, you have two female fighters full of fire and ready to blowtorch each other.
Nelson has her finger on the trigger.
“I have to be a dog and go in there and win this fight. I’ve always been aggressive. Why change anything for her?” said Nelson.
Shields believes it’s going to be difficult, but business as usual.
“Everyone goes into a fight thinking they can win, but once that right hand lands everything changes,” Shields said.
Showtime will televise at 10 p.m. ET/PT. It should be a very good one.
(Photo by Trapp Photos)