Shields to drop down, vie for title in third division

Claressa Shields will aim for another slice of boxing history in her next fight.

Shields, the only American boxer, male or female, to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, has already unified two belts at super middleweight before dropping down to middleweight, where she unified all four major belts to become the undisputed women's champion in April.

Now she will drop down again in weight, this time to junior middleweight, where she will fight Ivana Habazin for a vacant world title, Showtime announced Tuesday.

The fight will take place Aug. 17 (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/PT) at the Dort Federal Event Center in Shields' hometown of Flint, Michigan.

A Shields victory would give her a world title in a third weight division in only her 10th professional fight, which would be the fewest fights to reach that mark for a male or female. Unified lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, won a world title in a third weight class in his 12th professional fight to set the record in May 2018.

"I am delighted to promote another historic event featuring Claressa Shields, who strives to make history at a record-setting pace when she challenges herself to go down in weight to win a third division title against a very skilled and motivated fighter in Ivana Habazin," promoter Dmitriy Salita said.

The bout will also mark the first time Shields will fight as a professional in her hometown.

"It's hard to even put into words how excited I am to be returning home as undisputed champion and fighting in front of all my fans in Flint," Shields said. "And having the opportunity to become world champion in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history will make Aug. 17 a night I will cherish forever. It's another big step forward in lifting women's boxing on the road to equality."

On April 13, Shields (9-0, 2 KOs), 24, easily outpointed Christina Hammer in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to claim the fourth belt she needed to become undisputed middleweight champion. But even before that victory Shields had designs on dropping down another weight class for the opportunity to win a title in a third division.

She will get it against the experienced Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), 29, a former welterweight world titlist from Croatia who has won five fights in a row.

"I'm honored to fight on Showtime and to be making my debut in the U.S.," Habazin said. "It's a dream come true, and this is a huge chance for me to prove that I am one of boxing's elite fighters. I will not let this opportunity pass. I'm not just coming to the U.S. to fight, I'm coming for victory.

"I'm actually a big fan of Claressa. She made history for women's boxing and will be a great opponent for me. She's very confident in herself, she's aggressive, she can move, she has speed and good defense. But I have all of this, too, and I can punch. I can't wait to see what she is made of. They said her fight against Hammer was the biggest of all time, but I think this one will be the greatest ever."

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