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Shields, Crews and Taylor prepare to launch their Pro careers
by Michael O'Neill
November 8, 2016
     
   
   

(NOV 8)  Here on WBAN we brought you news recently that two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields, 21, from Flint has turned to the Pro sport and will make her debut in the paid ranks on November 19th on the undercard of the Kovalev vs. Ward World title fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, against Team USA former ‘amateur’ ‘friend and foe’ Franchon Crews.


Claressa Shields (left)  Franchon Crews (right)
Photo credit:  Facebook

Though the Shields/Crews fight will not be part of the HBO PPV telecast it will appear on the ‘freeview’ commencing 7pm ET.

"I can't wait to perform for my fans on Nov. 19," told ESPN. "Franchon Crews has an outstanding amateur background, but I'm a once-in-a-century fighter and I fear no one. It will be a great night for women's boxing, a night that I hope will be remembered as one that changed the course of history."


Katie Taylor/Book cover  Photo/Courtesy

We also brought you news that Ireland’s five-times AIBA World lightweight champion and London 2012 Gold medallist, Katie Taylor has turned pro also, whilst according to WBAN sources, GB’s Nicola Adams who like Shields struck Gold in London and in Rio, is also likely to joint up with the Matchroom team headed by Eddie Hearn. Indeed Hearn has had numerous discussions over the past few months with the Leeds woman, whilst it was Taylor who approached him.

We’ve been hearing from both Brian Peters (Katie’s boxing manager), promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom and bring you her own thoughts on her becoming a professional.

Brian Peters told WBAN : “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Katie again. She’s is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s greatest ever athletes, a national treasure and a true pioneer for women’s sport. She was hugely instrumental in getting women’s boxing into the Olympics and now she wants to make a similar impact on the professional side of the sport.”

“It’s going to be a very exciting time now not just for women’s boxing but the sport as a whole with a whole new audience tuning in to see these incredible athletes get the platform they deserve. I think what Ronda Rousey has achieved in the UFC in terms of becoming such a big star has opened broadcasters eyes to the potential of women’s professional boxing.

Katie has already proved to be a trailblazer in what she achieved in amateur boxing and the obstacles she overcame. I don’t think there is any doubt that her talent and achievements were absolutely crucial to women’s boxing finally being included in the Olympics and now in a sense she almost has to do that all over again for the professional side of the sport.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with some great athletes over the years across different sports but I can hand on heart say that I don’t think I have met anyone as driven as Katie in terms of what she wants to achieve. She is such a quiet, unassuming person but what she achieved in the amateurs was unprecedented in terms of the consistency she showed over a 10 year period. She has set her sights on replicating that success in the pro ranks and when you see the commitment and drive she has I fully expect her to do just that”.

Bearing in mind that former Olympic ‘friend and foe’ Sofya Ochigava turned Pro earlier in the year in Russia, is there any possibility that the two will meet again in the near future? Or perhaps Holly Holm or Argentina’s Erica Annabelle Farias, whom Katie defeated in the 2006 AIBA World final in New Delhi?

“I’m sure in time some of those old amateur rivalries will be renewed but as an amateur Katie always just focused on what was immediately in front of her in terms of the next scheduled fight and that won’t change in the pros. Right now her pro debut is all that’s on her mind and we’ll evaluate fight by fight after that to see what makes sense.

I did have some good discussions with Holly Holm’s manager after the 2012 Olympics and while ultimately it wasn’t an option at the time and a variety of reasons you never know in the future and certainly the plan is for Katie to fight in the US next year and to showcase her talent to boxing fans over there.”

Hopefully there may even be a World title bout in Dublin, if all goes according to the plans of Peters and Hearn.

Taylor’s astonishing success in the amateurs sees her widely regarded as the outstanding Irish athlete of her generation with her 15 year career garnering five World titles, six European titles and Olympic gold at the London 2012 games where she was her nation’s flagbearer.

Only this week Taylor, was voted Ireland’s most admired competitive athlete (of any sport) sharing first place with retired Rugby icon, Brian O’Driscoll and way ahead of MMA’s Conor McGregor and another Irish World star, Golfer Rory McIlroy. The annual Poll was conducted by onside.ie in conjunction with the Sunday World newspaper. Equally interesting is the fact that although she did not add to her already record 19 Gold medals in International competition, Taylor has retained all of her sponsors for the immediate future with others now likely to come on board as she has turned Pro.

The 30 year old from Bray now turns her attentions to conquering the paid ranks and her path to World titles begins in London on November 26 before a second pro outing before the end of the year at the Manchester Arena on December 10 on the undercard of the IBF World Heavyweight title defence of fellow gold medal star Anthony Joshua MBE.

“When I first dreamt of Olympic gold, female boxing was practically unknown,” said Taylor. “Now because of my journey and the incredible supporters who came along with me, female boxing is as much part of the fabric of the Olympics as its male counterpart. Now I want to do the same for the professional sport and I hope those who have supported me along the way will come along with me. I’m excited for the road ahead.”

“Today marks a significant day for our sport with the news that Katie is joining the professional ranks,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “She is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time and a public icon in Ireland. I met Katie for the first time last week and was fascinated by her desire to not just win World titles but to break down the barriers of women’s boxing, she is an incredible role model.

“Boxing is a sport open to all but it’s also an entertainment business. Anyone who has watched Katie fight knows how exciting she is and anyone who hasn’t is really going to enjoy her journey on Sky Sports. I’m really excited by this challenge and we are committed to giving Katie the opportunities she needs to achieve her dreams.”

Sky Sports Head of Boxing Adam Smith said: “Katie is an outstanding boxer and this is great news for her and all the fans who have followed her incredible career. She has shown what an inspiration she is to young people through her role as a Sky Sports Living For Sport ambassador, and we’re very excited for her first professional fight live on Sky Sports in November.”

Taylor’s debut comes on a huge night of action in London as Tommy Coyle and John Wayne Hibbert clash in a must-win Super-Lightweight battle. The all-action pair know that victory is paramount if they are to continue to hunt major titles, with Hull star Coyle looking to get back into contention for the British title after being edged out by Tyrone Nurse and former Commonwealth champion and Essex favourite Hibbert keen to reignite his career after a disappointing outing in the summer.

Hibbert’s last fight was at The O2 for the WBC Silver title against Andrea Scarpa in June, and unbeaten Hackney talent Ohara Davies can rip that title from the Italian as the 24 year old faces a huge step up in his 14th pro outing. Davies’ Tony Sims gym-mate Martin J. Ward defends his British Super-Featherweight title for the first time after his impressive eighth round stoppage win over Andy Townend at The O2 in September.

Tickets are now on sale for Wembley, with tickets priced £40, £60 and £100 available from www.ssearena.co.uk or by calling 0844 815 0815. £150 VIP tickets are available exclusively via www.matchroomboxing.com

To end on a disappointing note, it is sad to see that as at the time of writing, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has not taken the opportunity of wishing Shields or Taylor well in their future careers despite their having been AIBA Ambassadors for some years . Indeed the huge popularity of Taylor has been the reason why literally thousands of young girls in Ireland (North and South) have joined boxing clubs rather than turn to other sports in Ireland.

Hopefully AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu will ‘break his silence’ and congratulate Shields, Crews and Taylor in their new career. Anything less than a “Good Luck and Thank You” message would be ungracious and do little to encourage future young stars to put their body on the line for the AIBA .Fair dues though to the IABA who did wish Taylor well in the Pro sport and thanked her for all her efforts over the past 15 years, indeed since she and Alanna Audley then 15 and 16 respectfully fought in the first ever legally sanctioned bout in Ireland on 31 October 2001.

Links to the following:

Franchon Crews http://www.theheavyhittingdiva.com/about.html

Claressa Shields https://twitter.com/claressashields

Katie Taylor https://twitter.com/KatieTaylor

 
     
     
   
 
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