Avila Perspective, Chap. 244: ESPY Winner Claressa Shields and More Fight News


By David A. Avila

Out of all the boxers in the world Claressa Shields was chosen Best Boxer of the Year at the prestigious ESPY Awards given annually in Los Angeles. This includes all men and women.

Incredible honor.

“This award may have my name on it, but it is for every female boxer who has stepped into the ring and hopefully will inspire generations of young women in the future to pursue their dreams with no boundaries. I want to thank ESPN and all my fans who voted for me all over the world,” said Shields.

Shields, the undisputed super welterweight and middleweight world champion, became the first woman ever chosen for the award. Other candidates were Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney.

All were extremely worthy, but it was Shields who stood out with her victories over Maricela Cornejo and England’s Savannah Marshall who recently became undisputed super middleweight champion.

The Flint, Michigan native erupted on the boxing scene in 2016 after winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. Since turning professional Shields has burned up the prizefighting scene and become one of the spearheads in breaking the glass ceiling that prevented women’s boxing from being televised.

chosen for the award. Other candidates were Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney.

For those that have never witnessed Shields in action, it’s best to see her perform in person. Her incredible hand-speed, agility and overall athleticism make her one of the best female fighters I ever saw. Perhaps the best.

If not for Shields and a few others, women’s boxing would have remained in the shadows. Thankfully, her willingness to prove her skills against the best fighters in the world smashed the barriers that kept women’s boxing hidden.

Now the top women fighters are promoted and televised by major companies and networks such as ESPN, which sponsored the ESPY Awards.

More Michigan

Undisputed super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner meets Christina Linardatou on Saturday, July 15, in Detroit. This is their second confrontation. DAZN will be streaming their fight.

Linardatou is the only fighter to have a win over Baumgardner and the champion is eager to avenge that loss that took place nearly five years ago in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I am coming for destruction. I have my grown woman strength and I am ready to put these hands on her and get that lick back that I have been waiting to do,” said Baumgardner at the Matchroom Boxing press conference.

Linardatou relishes the opportunity to prove her victory in 2018 was not a fluke.

“I always fight hard from first to last bell, because I am the underdog and I know I must go and get it. I have many skills, but I need to be dog and go and get it,” Linardatou said.

Las Vegas Heat

Lightweight contenders Frank Martin (17-0, 12 KOs) and Artem Harutyunyan (12-0, 7 KOs) meet on Saturday July 15, at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Temperatures outside are expected to be above 112 degrees.

Showtime will televise the TGB Promotions fight card.

Martin, a southpaw, outpointed Michel Rivera at the same venue last December. Many expected Rivera to become one of the stars of the lightweight division. Martin controlled the fight and won in convincing fashion with a gritty performance.

“I’m coming for it. I just want a dominant performance. I’m ready for whatever he’s got,” said Martin who trains with Derrick James in Texas. “He’s a come-forward fighter who tries to switch it up and be awkward. If he comes at me too aggressively, then it’s gonna be man down.”

Harutyunyan, an Olympic bronze medalist, hungers for this opportunity to crack the elite list. The undefeated lightweight is from Armenia. All of his fights have taken place in Germany and he is the only fighter to knock out Spain’s Sam Molina.

Armenia has long been a stronghold for very solid fighters.

Martin promises not to under-estimate Harutyunyan.

“Some people don’t respect my opponent because they don’t know who he is, but he’s an Olympic bronze medalist. They try to discredit him because they don’t want to fight me. No matter what, the goal is to dominate,” Martin said.

Also on the card are two fighters who trained with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif.

Elvis Rodriguez (14-1-1, 12 KOs) faces former world titlist Viktor Postal (31-4, 12 KOs) of Ukraine in a super lightweight match set for 10 rounds. Both have sparred each other before.

“My trainer Freddie Roach knows both of us very well. Ultimately that just makes the fight more interesting. Because we both know what to expect out of each other,” said Rodriguez.

Postal agrees with that sentiment and adds he has further inspiration.

“I’m gonna be myself in the ring. I’m always calm and collected in there. I’m going to do my best to raise the flag and represent Ukraine,” said Postal.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific)

Sat. DAZN 11 a.m. Josh Kelly (13-1-1) vs Gabriel Corzo (18-0).

Sat. DAZN 5 p.m. Alycia Baumgardner (14-1) vs Christina Linardatou (14-2).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Frank Martin (17-0) vs Artem Harutyunyan (12-0).