Some Unsolicited Advice for Claressa Shields

In just her sixth professional fight, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (6-0, 2 KOs) defeated super-tough Hanna “La Amazona” Gabriels (18-2-1, 11 KOs) for the vacant IBF and WBA world middleweight titles. Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, won her first world titles in only her fourth professional fight  If Christina Hammer (23-0) turns out to be her next opponent, look for the Flint, Michigan native to try to get inside the “Lady’s” long jab and break her down. Styles make fights and Hammer, who has minimal hammer in her punches, seems made to order for the super-fast and offensive-minded Shields who appears to have a very bright future.

“Claressa’s fundamentals and skills can’t be denied,” says boxing writer Caryn A. Tate. “She’s a phenomenal fighter. Her hand speed is blistering, her punch selection and accuracy is wonderful, and her footwork is highly effective. To top it all off, she has immeasurable self-confidence, which likely gives her an extra edge in the ring.”

However, and notwithstanding her compelling back story, Shields’ deportment outside the ring has not equaled her skilled performances inside the squared circle. Her less-than-effusive gesture of sportsmanship toward opponents after she beats them is one thing, but her recent post-fight interview with Steve Farhood (which included a comment about beating up men) left much to be desired as it was all about self-aggrandizement and how she will become the “greatest fighter of all time.” As for her post-fight “spontaneous explosion” against Hammer (pictured in red), that was bile-inducing.

Here is what “T-Rex” gave as her excuse for the post-fight incident: “I’m just tired of Hammer disrespecting me all the time. She comes into the ring after all my fights, talks trash, and then she goes in there and looks like s*** against Nelson. I’m sick of it. But I let her know I’m more than ready for a fight against her. She wanted me to lose tonight, but I wanted her to win because I want to fight her. We have to unify now.”

Hammer said: “….The fight with Claressa will be a game-changer. It will be the biggest women’s fight ever. I would like to fight her at a neutral site.” (No, it won’t be the biggest women’s fight ever, but it’s compelling.)

Shields does not have to act this way to garner attention. Her boxing success can do it for her. But classless can beget classless—and outside her geographical base in Michigan, her fans can be fickle. Boxing is one of the few sports where one loss can erase an aura of invincibility, especially in this age of social media. Shields’ aura would be dashed faster than you can say Juan Manual Lopez and she needs to realize that.

Here’s what Hanna Gabriels said after the fight: “She’s very fast, and she does have a lot of power. I’m a smaller kid…I’ll accept my loss with dignity. I gave my all. I think I probably landed more punches, or the same, I don’t know. But I’m not going to make excuses.”

That’s class. Talking about beating up men is not.

If Claressa needs a role model, there are plenty. Gabriels would be one, as would Tori Nelson, Cecilia Braekhus and Layla McCarter to name a few. This doesn’t mean Shields has to go to charm school, far from it, but it would help immediately if someone could help her with how to be interviewed and what to say. It’s more endearing to come off like Carl Frampton than Jermell Charlo. Maybe her savvy new trainer John David Jackson can help with this.

Someone once said that advice is only good if you are giving it. Maybe so, but my advice is simple and straightforward. To wit, take a humble path to stardom. With just a few relatively easy adjustments to your persona, you can become the entire package and increase your already soaring gravitas exponentially.

Conversely, if you continue to come off as you did against Gabriels, warning signs just may begin to flash as they did a long time ago with Adrien Broner. He totally ignored them. They also flashed for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and to his everlasting credit, he learned by them.

Photo credit / Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

Ted Sares is an active full power lifter and will soon be attempting a 4 in 4 (4 meets in 4 months) something never before done by an octogenarian. A member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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