Editor’s note: Hanna Gabriels was removed on Thursday as an opponent of Clarissa Shields over drug testing issues. She was replaced by Maricela Cornejo.
Claressa Shields couldn’t accomplish more than she did.
Two Olympic gold medals. World titles in two divisions. Record 13-0 in competition, 10-0 in championship bouts. One of the two or three faces of women’s boxing. She’s already one of the best to ever do it.
Only one thing is missing: knockouts. Only two of her wins ended in a stoppage, the latter of which was in her fourth fight in 2017.
This continues to worry Shields as she prepares for her rematch with Hanna Gabriels on June 3 at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
And it serves as motivation. Boxing Junkie asked her if it was hard for her to get up for a fight, given her dominance over everyone she had fought as a professional.
“No, it isn’t,” she said. “If I knocked these girls out in the first or second round, it would be hard for me to get back up. I went 10 rounds and I was dominating and in my mind…why can’t I knock her out? So for me, that’s what lifts me up.”
The question is, what will the knockouts bring her?
Two-minute rounds in women’s boxing don’t help. Women don’t have that much time to tire out their opponents. And of course, some fighters just have more pop in their punches than others.
Shields thinks knockouts will come if he does the right things.
“We have to figure out how to knock these girls out,” she said. “I’ve already dominated them. So the next level is to knock them out. I feel like all these men will get knockouts (against inferior opponents) early in their careers.
“I’ve only had tough challenges, girls with more experience, girls stronger than me. … I finally caught up with them in experience. I feel more comfortable sitting on my punches.
“We want quality over quantity, body shot kicking, good head movement, countering, explosiveness. Now we’re getting into it. I won by pure talent.
He has some extra motivation against Gabriels (21-2-1, 12 KOs).
The Costa Rican is the only opponent to ever put Shields on the canvas, turning things around in a first-round fight in 2018. Shields won a wide decision, proving she was the better fighter despite her early mishap.
Still, 40-year-old Gabriels apparently believes she has the power to turn things around in a rematch. For her part, Shields left the knockdown behind her years ago.
“I was upset that night that it happened,” he said. “That was it. I don’t think about knocking down five years later like she did. What else did you do? You lost. That’s what everyone else did to me in the ring, lose.
Indeed, if breaking fights early was a problem for the Shields, winning certainly wasn’t. She hasn’t lost a fight since Savannah Marshall defeated her when she was a 17-year-old amateur in 2012.
And victory replaces everything else. It would just be nice to finish early once in a while.
“Honestly, I just ‘want’ to win, get better and better, knock these girls out, get faster and stronger, and just continue a great career,” said Shields. “There will always be someone coming up who wants to fight for world titles.
“I just want to be ready for them and fight the best. That’s all I can do now.”