Claressa Shields, considered the most dominant female fighter in the world, was scheduled to fight Croatia's Ivana Habazin tomorrow, Oct. 5, for the vacant WBC/WBO 154-pound title live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). The latest news coming out of Flint, Michigan, Shields' hometown and the site of tomorrow's event, is that the fight is off because of an incident at today's weigh-in.
According to various sources, Habazin's trainer Bashir Ali (aka James Ali Bashir) got into an argument with a member of Shields' entourage as the scales were being prepared for the weigh-in. Before the actual weight-in, he was sucker punched, hit from behind with such force that he was knocked unconscious. The person with whom Bashir Ali was arguing was said to be female. The person that attacked him was male.
When her trainer hit the floor, Habazin rushed to his aid, sobbing. He was conscious when he was removed to a hospital on a stretcher where he reportedly was scheduled for facial surgery. A clearly distraught Habazin accompanied him. The police reportedly took a suspect into custody but did not name him.
Mark Taffet, Shields' manager, hopeful that the bout could be salvaged, made this statement to the assembled media: "As long as we make sure her trainer is OK and Ivana is in a good frame of mind, we'll expect the weigh-in to take place later and look forward to everything going forward."
A later tweet from ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. said the fight was OFF. The new main event, originally the semi-main, pits Jaron "Boots" Ennis (23-0, 21 KOs) against Argentina's Demian Daniel Fernandez (12-1, 9 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight contest. Also on the TV portion of the show is 10-round heavyweight match between Jermaine Franklin (19-0, 13 KOs) and Pavel Sour (11-1, 6 KOs), a little-known, 36-year-old Czech.
The weigh-ins for those fights went on as scheduled without incident.
Bashir Ali (pictured in this 2018 photo with Ukrainian heavyweight Vlad Sirenko) spent 17 years as an assistant to Emanuel Steward at Detroit's fabled Kronk Gym. Before that, he was a member of Muhammad Ali's team at Ali's training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. Originally from New Jersey, he is a man in his 70s.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) was looking to win a world title in a third weight division after previously winning 168- and 160-pound belts. Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs) suffered all three of her losses in fights sanctioned for world titles, losing to Serbia's Eva Bajic, Norway's Cecilia Braekhus, and Sweden's Mikaela Lauren.
We will have further details as they develop.
Photo credit: Jake May, M Live
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel