In a rare once-in-a-lifetime moment, a female prizefighter has been selected Prospect of the Year as members of theSweetScience.com chose Claressa Shields as the best for 2017.
Never mind that no other female has ever been considered before, nor that she already has two world titles, Shields has impressed so many with her multi-talented fighting skills that they foresee an extremely bright future for the Michigan native.
Take that world.
Following a year when many female and male boxers entered the pro fighting world after a foray in the Olympics, only Shields opened her pro debut against one of the best opponents you will ever see.
No easy walk-overs for Shields.
On November, 2016, just months after winning a second Olympic gold medal in boxing, Shields met the talented Franchon Crews in a four round bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Both were making their pro debuts and the two clashed with a fury that left the rest of the fight card looking impotent in comparison.
Shields never blinked when told only Crews would fight her. Following her win Shields sought out the best.
Convinced of her talent Showtime Boxing agreed to show Shields fights and on March 10, the Michigan fighter was revved to meet Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados for the NABF middleweight title in Detroit before a national audience. It was hardly a contest as Shields overwhelmed Szabados with her speed that forced a stoppage in the fourth round.
Three months later Shields moved up a weight division to fight Sydney LeBlanc for the WBC Silver super middleweight title in Detroit. It was eight rounds of blinding combinations and pummeling that was shown again to a national audience. Shields was now two-for-two in capturing titles.
“I can go up another division or I can go down to 154,” said Shields about her preferred weight class. “Wherever the best fight, that’s where I can fight.”
Meanwhile, other Olympians both female and male were given lukewarm competition against fighters with more losses than wins. Not Shields, her competition had a combined 35 wins, nine losses and a draw.
Last August, a mere one year after winning Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, Shields met undefeated WBC super middleweight world titlist Nikki Adler of Germany. After five rounds of dizzying blows that snapped back the German fighter’s head repeatedly, the referee kindly stopped the fight. Shields picked up the WBC and IBF super middleweight world titles after only one year as a pro.
Who does that?
Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) is only 22 years old. Her rapid ascent to the top has caught many by surprise and she anxiously awaits her next challenge on January 12 against undefeated Tori Nelson (17-0-3) at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Shields meteoric ascent has been her seamless transition to a professional style. Unlike many other Olympians who endure hiccups due to differences between amateur and pro boxing, Shields possesses overwhelming athleticism and skill.
What most experts realize is that Shields will get even better. It’s a scary thought for any future foes to realize that the Michigan boxer will definitely get even better.
In a year that featured many tremendous prospects and potential stars it was evident to many boxing experts that Shields rises far above the rest. The prospects for her future are brighter than anyone at her level of pro experience, male or female. She is the TSS Prospect of the Year for 2017.