This Saturday, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev square-up against one another in the most anticipated boxing fight of the year. Much further down that same HBO pay-per-view boxing card from Las Vegas, the most talked-about American boxing amateur in a generation makes her pro debut.
If you've heard the name Claressa Shields at all over the past four years, but don't know exactly why, check out our short guide below, so you can be ready for her big-show start on Saturday.
Where To Watch: On the freeview telecast beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT on the Pay-Per-View events channel prior to the official telecast, and through livestreaming on HBO Boxing’s YouTube channel.
- Shields, 21, hails from the fighting city of Flint, MI
- To get a sense of how much of a big deal she is in boxing, think about the excitement surrounding two-time Judo Olympian and one-time bronze medalist Ronda Rousey when she transitioned to MMA years ago...then double it
- Shields is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing, winning as a 17 year-old at the 2012 London games and again in Rio this past summer
- In fact, Shields is the first American boxer ever to win two Olympic gold medals
- Despite that resume, good looks and being well-spoken, she only has a one-fight promotional deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation
- Saturday, Shields makes her professional boxing debut in a super middleweight class between another former top amateur who is stepping into the pro ranks for the first time - Franchon Crews
- Shields has fought on national television, appeared in ads for major brands and been interviewed by top outlets for years, all while showing dominance in the ring, but she still faces a hard and narrow road towards financial success, in large part because boxing promoters still discriminate against women severely - even more so than top MMA promoters do
- Case in point; despite having more buzz around her than almost anyone other than Saturday's headliners, Ward and Kovalev, Shields is not scheduled to be on the pay-per-view portion of the card, thought of as a prestige slot
What to look for: Shields is a well-rounded, polished fighter but she has an especially good jab and often finishes hard body-head combos with a nasty left hook to the face