Unified 154-Pound World Championship
Claressa Shields – 153 ½ lbs.
Ivana Habazin – 152 ½ lbs.
Referee: Sparkle Lee; Judges: Debra Barnes (New Jersey), Lynne Carter (Pennsylvania), Robin Taylor (New York)
10-Rd Welterweight Bout
Jaron Ennis – 145 ¾ lbs.
Bakhtiyar Eyubov – 146 ¼ lbs.
Referee: Earl Brown; Judges: Jackie Atkins (New Jersey), Albert Bennett (New Jersey); James Kinney (New Jersey)
WBA and IBF Super Middleweight World Championship Unification
Alicia Napoleon Espinosa – 164 lbs.
Elin Cederroos – 166 ½ lbs.
Referee: Benjy Esteves; Judges: Mark Consentino (New Jersey), Lawrence Layton (New Jersey), John McKaie (New York)
“It wasn’t difficult [to make weight]. In Flint I was 154.0. Now I’m 153.4. I could go down to 147 if I wanted to. I don’t fight off emotion. That’s why I’m a champion. There are plenty of girls who have done way worse things than what she’s doing trying to throw me off my square. I don’t really think what she’s doing, or her new coach, is supposed to bother me.”
“I’m taking this fight more seriously than before and I gave everything into training, and I’m ready. She can talk saying she’s going to knock me out. Whatever. She doesn’t have that power and she will not knock me out. I have good defense and I know I have power so I’m going to knock her out.”
“Most definitely I view this as a coming out party. Tomorrow night you’re going to see me real sharp. Speed and great defense, and we’re going to make easy work tomorrow night.”
Undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former welterweight champion Ivana Habazin met face-to-face Tuesday at the final press conference three days before their long-awaited showdown for the vacant WBC and WBO 154-pound world titles this Friday, January 10 live on SHOWTIME from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
The press conference also featured Philadelphia’s welterweight sensation Jaron Ennis and Brooklyn-based contender Bakhtiyar Eyubov, who meet in the 10-round co-featured bout, plus Lindenhurst, N.Y. native and WBA Super Middleweight Champion Alicia Napoleon Espinosa and undefeated IBF Super Middleweight Champion Elin Cederroos, who will clash in a blockbuster unification bout to open the SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION action at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The event is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with T-REX BOXING PROMOTIONS.
Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Manhattan:
“I’m once in a century kind of athlete. I guarantee it’s going to be over before six rounds. And I say six because I’m punching different. I’m stronger at 154. I’m faster.
“I just try to keep carrying women’s boxing the best way that I can. I’m regarded as a top 10 fighter in boxing already with only nine fights. When you have that kind of pressure you have to go out and not be average. Skill wise, there’s not a woman that can compare to me. I can do everything. I can box, I can brawl, I can stand in front of you toe-to-toe. When I win this fight I’m just going to get a little bit louder with: She’s the GWOAT, Greatest Women Of All Time. Put it there. I claim it.
“After everything happened in Flint, I had a conversation with Stephen Espinoza and he just told me to stay focused. Everyone who was in Flint and knows about the incident that happened knows it’s not something I have a history of doing. I don’t do stuff outside the ring.
“One of the things she said that was really disrespectful was that I didn’t make weight for October 4. Don’t believe the lies. I made 154 pounds and I’m going to be a three-division world champion come Friday. Ivana doesn’t stand a chance. I’m sorry, I’m just going to keep it real. She’s not as skilled as Christina Hammer. She worked her way up, but once a quitter, always a quitter.
“Once the fight is over, she’s going to be a blast from the past. They won’t be talking about the incident in Flint. They may remember it, but her? They won’t even remember her name after I beat her down on Friday.”
“I bet all of you are excited to see this fight. It’s finally time. First, I want to say thank you to SHOWTIME, Salita Promotions, and my team, who made this fight. I want to say that Claressa Shields is not the greatest woman of all time, but she is the greatest bully of all time. She can say whatever she wants, but you know what, talk is cheap, and on Friday night she ain’t going to do anything, because I’m going to knock her out.
“In regards to weight, I definitely think it’s going to be an advantage for me, but I don’t worry about her weight. Whatever, this is the fight. It’s not a game, and I came here to win.
“She can say whatever she wants, but the lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinions of sheep. So, I don’t even think about her.
“I’m not worried about the judges. I know what I need to do. If I want an easy win, it’s going to be with a knockout. But I prepare myself for the knockout or for whatever I need. I am really prepared better than ever.
“I don’t think the fight is going to be easy. Of course it’s not going to be easy and I prepared for that too, but I think this is one really big show and the judges will be fair, but I will not give them a chance to make a decision.”
“I want to thank Eyubov for taking this fight because as you all know we go through a bunch of opponents every time I fight. Nobody wants to fight me. I thank him for taking this, but despite that, Friday night I’m coming to do my thing and put on a show. You all know I’m in and out like a robbery.
“I’m going to get that knockout. It’s going to come. I’m sure it’s going to come because he’s got to come to me. It’s going to come. We’re going to set it up perfect and get him up out of here.
“I’m unpredictable. You don’t know what I’m going to do. I can switch it up, I can have fun. I can do whatever I want to do to him. Friday night he’s going to see why nobody wants to fight me.
“After I do my thing on Friday night, we are most definitely looking for the top 10 or top 15, title eliminators, world titles, all of that. 2020 will be the year that I take over and the world will know about Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.”
“I’m very excited to be here on this SHOWTIME card. I come from a small country (Kazakhstan) and it’s really hard for me to believe that this is actually happening.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity and will do my best on Friday. I’m grateful to fight such a skilled and tough opponent. I know he’s very strong physically and mentally, but I grew up on the streets and I’ve been around war all my life.
“I’m going to bring the toughness. I’m not a regular opponent. I come with an awkward style that will cause him problems.”
ALICIA NAPOLEON ESPINOSA
“We finally got here and it’s amazing. I’m honored to be on the card with these women and to be bringing this sport up together. We’re pioneering for women’s boxing for all the women that are with us now and the women who are ahead of us.
On claims that Napoleon-Espinosa avoided Shields in the past:
“I did not avoid [Shields] and we hashed this out before in person, not on social media. I want to get paid. I want to make decent money and make as much as the men in this sport eventually. You know when Claressa first started they weren’t offering as much as now and the money still needs to be more. Women offer just as much as the men.
“I’m looking to be challenged and to fight the best. That’s what we are here for. But I’m going to take a stand and I’m not going to say yes until the team agrees. That’s where I stand.”
“My team is something special. This is a big opportunity to be here and be on this fight card, and I just try to enjoy every moment. This is my first time in the U.S. I came from Sweden for this fight. We arrived yesterday, and this is so fun. I love it. It feels great to be here.
“This is a big dream coming true. Thank you for this opportunity. I don’t know what to say, I’m just enjoying the moment. I’m for sure going to put on a great show Friday night.
“I had my first amateur fight six years ago and had to pause for two years because of my second pregnancy. My kid Jack is turning four in February. My kids are back at home and my husband is coming tomorrow.
“I’m just feeling so strong. I feel I have this in me. The fight is just ahead and I think it will be such a great fight.”
The long-awaited showdown between undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former champion Ivana Habazin has been rescheduled for Friday, January 10 live on SHOWTIME from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. Shields and Habazin will face off for the vacant WBC and WBO 154-pound world titles as Shields attempts to make history as the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion.
Shields and Habazin were scheduled to fight on October 5 in Flint, Mich. The bout was called off less than 36 hours from the opening bell following an altercation at the official weigh-in that resulted in an injury to Habazin’s trainer, James Ali Bashir. This is the third date for Shields and Habazin. They were first scheduled to meet on August 17 before Shields withdrew due to a minor knee injury.
The January 10 SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature a WBA Super Lightweight World Title Eliminator between Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15 KOs) and Keith Hunter (11-0, 7 KOs). The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for WBA Super Lightweight World Championship currently held by Mario Barrios.
Shields vs. Habazin is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with T-REX BOXING PROMOTIONS. Ergashev vs. Hunter is promoted in association with Greg Cohen Promotions. Ticket information for the live event will be announced next week.
The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near-shutout victory over previously undefeated world champion Christina Hammer in April on SHOWTIME. In doing so, the two-division titlist joined Terrence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Oleksandr Usyk and Cecilia Braekhus as the only fighters to have unified all four major world titles in any weight class (Katie Taylor has since joined the prestigious list). On January 10, Shields will seek to make even more history in her sixth headlining appearance on SHOWTIME. With a win over Habazin, Shields would become a three-division champion in just 10 bouts, breaking the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Kosei Tanaka, who both accomplished the feat in 12 fights.
“My goal is to become three-division champ faster than any man or woman in history,” Shields said. “This is a very significant fight for both of us. We have both trained really hard twice and great opportunities await the winner, so hopefully three times is the charm.”
Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), of Zagreb, Croatia, is ranked No. 1 by the WBO at 154 pounds. The 30-year-old, who will be making her U.S. debut, won the IBF Welterweight Title over Sabrina Giuliani in 2014. In her next fight, Habazin dropped a unanimous decision to Braekhus in a historic unification bout where Braekhus picked up all four major world title belts. Most recently, Habazin avenged one of only three losses in her career to Eva Bajic in Zagreb.
Habazin will train in her native Croatia and has dedicated the fight to Bashir.
“I’ve been thinking about this since October and I have more of an incentive now given what happened,” Habazin said. “I feel like I’m fighting for James Ali Bashir, as well as for my own pride and respect. I’m also fighting for my country. I want to make Croatia proud that I am their daughter, and I feel that I now have their full support. Claressa is just a brief stop on my journey. I have bigger dreams and bigger shoes to fill in my life. I’m on my way to fulfilling my personal legend – being crowned the undisputed women’s junior middleweight champion. This is just another step on that journey. Given my faith, I feel that while what happened in October was incredibly unfortunate, this was God’s plan. And I have faith that my hand will be raised in victory in January.”
Shields was the first American boxer in history – male or female – to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing main event in premium television history in just her second professional fight in 2017. Shields became unified women’s super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight, and a two-division champion in her sixth professional contest. She was crowned the undisputed 160-pound champion in her ninth fight, less than three years after turning professional following the 2016 Olympics.
“January 10 is going to be an important date in boxing history as Claressa continues her unprecedented journey toward greatness,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “A win over Ivana Habazin would make Claressa – in just her tenth fight – the fastest boxer ever to acquire world title belts in three weight categories. But a very determined, skilled and experienced boxer stands in her way, and Ivana is pursuing her own world championship dream. History will be claimed in the ring on January 10 at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City and live on SHOWTIME.”
“With five world titles in just nine professional fights, Claressa Shields has been making women’s boxing history at a record pace,” said manager Mark Taffet. “Now, in her 10th fight on January 10, she seeks to win a world title in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in history, and in remarkable fashion by going down in weight each time. Claressa continues to render the impossible possible. It’s truly Herstory.”
“Ocean is proud to host Shields vs. Habazin inside Ovation Hall this January,” said Michael Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Ocean Casino Resort Atlantic City. “We are excited to bring world class boxing to Atlantic City and look forward to more shows in 2020.”
Hard-hitting super lightweight Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15 KOs), of Uzbekistan, is ranked in the top-15 in three of the four major sanctioning bodies. The 27-year-old Ergashev is coming off an impressive fourth round knockout of veteran Abdiel Ramirez this past August on ShoBox: The New Generation. In his previous appearances on the prospect developmental series, the former member of the Uzbek national team scored a third round knockout against then top-10 rated Sonny Fredrickson, and a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Mykal Fox. The hard-hitting southpaw currently trains in Detroit with Javan “Sugar” Hill at the new Kronk Gym with stablemate Vladimir Shishkin.
“My goal is to be the junior welterweight champion of the world in 2020,” Ergashev said. “After I win this fight I will be just one step away from realizing my dream of bringing the world title home to my country Uzbekistan.”
The 27-year-old Hunter is ranked No. 12 in the WBA. A native of Las Vegas, the 6-foot Hunter will make his national television debut against the first undefeated opponent of his career. Hunter, who is the younger brother of former Olympian Michael Hunter, trains at Bones Adams Gym in Las Vegas and is co-managed by former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.
“I’m looking forward to making my national television debut on Showtime,” said Keith “The Bounty” Hunter. “Boxing is in my blood and January 10 will be my chance to take my career to the next level. Ergashev has a bounty on his head, I’m here to collect!”
JARON ENNIS RETURNS TO FACE HARD-HITTING BAKHTIYAR EYUBOV FRIDAY, JANUARY 10 LIVE ON SHOWTIME®
Undefeated welterweight sensation Jaron Ennis will make his 2020 debut against hard-hitting Bakhtiyar Eyubov on Friday, January 10 live on SHOWTIME from Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
The 22-year-old Ennis (24-0, 22 KOs) will take on Kazakhstan’s Eyubov (14-1-1, 12 KOs) just an hour away from his hometown of Philadelphia in the 10-round co-main event of a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION tripleheader that begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Two women’s blockbusters will bookend the welterweight bout. Claressa Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) will take on Ivana Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs) for the WBC and WBO 154-pound World Championships in a long-anticipated main event. In the telecast opener, WBA Super Middleweight Champion Alicia Napoleon Espinosa (12-1, 7 KOs) meets IBF Champion Elin Cederroos (7-0, 4 KOs) in a 168-pound world title unification.
The event is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with T-REX BOXING PROMOTIONS. The Napoleon-Espinosa vs Cederroos fight is promoted by Salita Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment.
In Eyubov, Ennis will take on his toughest test to date as he looks to continue his rapid ascension in one boxing’s deepest divisions. The switch-hitter has scored 14 consecutive knockouts as has his level opposition has steadily increased since turning professional in 2016. He returned from a nine-month layoff in August of 2019 with a first round TKO of Franklin Mamani and followed that up with a third round TKO of Demian Fernandez on October 5. Against Fernandez, the come-forward and aggressive Ennis landed 43 percent of his power shots as he switched from orthodox to southpaw in a clinical performance in the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION.
Widely regarded as one of the top prospects in boxing, Ennis had two emphatic knockout victories on ShoBox: The New Generation in 2018. The Philadelphia native, who owns 10 first round knockouts and has yet to be pushed past the sixth round, was a standout amateur who won the 2015 National Golden Gloves was ranked as the No. 1 amateur at 141 pounds before turning pro.
“I’m coming to make another statement to the welterweight division and the world,” said Ennis. “I’m going to let them know that I’m here and that 2020 will be my year. I’m the future of this division and January 10 is the next step in proving that.”
The 33-year-old Eyubov, from Aktobe, Kazakhstan and currently based in Brooklyn, N.Y., is known for his relentlessly aggressive fighting style. Quickly making a name for himself in the welterweight division, Eyubov tore through his first ten professional opponents, knocking them all out within the first three rounds including a third-round stoppage of Jared Robinson on ShoBox in 2016. Eyubov also owns impressive wins over Nicholas Givan (21-2-1) and Karim Mayfield (21-5-1) but is winless in his last two outings, including a majority draw with Jose Luis Rodriguez and a unanimous decision loss to undefeated Brian Ceballo. With just 16 professional fights to his name since moving on from the amateur ranks in 2012, Eyubov is eager to turn heads with a career-defining win over the highly regarded Ennis.
“On January 10, Jaron Ennis is going to be in the hardest fight of his life,” Eyubov said. “He has never faced anyone with my strength, skills and will to win. Bakha Bullet will shoot to do damage in Atlantic City and hand Ennis his first loss.”
“The Ennis vs. Eyubov fight is a classic crossroads fight and a must-win for both fighters,” said Eyubov promoter Dmitriy Salita. “It’s a big test for Ennis, who is a slick, skilled boxer, and a potentially career-changing opportunity for the aggressive, powerful and formerly world-rated contender in Eyubov. We expect fireworks on January 10th.
The previously announced WBA Super Lightweight World Title Eliminator between Shohjahon Ergashev and Keith Hunter has been postponed after Hunter injured his right hand during training. A new date and opponent for Ergashev will be announced in the coming days.
An industry leading production team and announce crew will deliver all the sights, sounds and drama from Atlantic City. Veteran broadcaster Brian Custer will host the telecast while versatile combat sports voice Mauro Ranallo will call the action alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi at ringside. Three Hall of Famers round out the SHOWTIME announce team – Emmy® award winning reporter Jim Gray, unofficial ringside scorer Steve Farhood and world-renowned ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. The Executive Producer of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION is David Dinkins, Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing. The telecast will be available in Spanish via Secondary Audio Programing (SAP) with Alejandro Luna and former world champion Raul Marquez calling the action.