Claressa Shields is at ease this time.
The Flint native is gearing up for her fourth professional fight, this time against undefeated German boxer Nikki Adler in “ShoBox: The Next Generation,” which is set for Friday night at MGM Grand Detroit (10:30 p.m., Showtime).
Shields’ transition from being an amateur, where she was 78-1 with back-to-back Olympic gold medals, to a professional was stressful enough when she made the decision in November 2016. The uncertainty of whether anyone would want to fight the best amateur crossed her mind. The 22-year-old wondered whether she’d ever get paid. She even questioned whether anyone would watch her fight.
All those questions have been answered in only 10 months on the pro circuit. She has beaten Franchon Crews, Szilvia Szabados and Sydney LeBlanc, winning the North American Boxing Federation middleweight and World Boxing Council Silver super middleweight belts.
Now, she faces her biggest challenge.
Shields is facing Adler (16-0, nine knockouts) for the World Boxing Council super middleweight world title and the vacant International Boxing Federation belt.
One would think that would add to her stress. So, has it?
“This is one of my most relaxing camps that I have ever had,” Shields told reporters before she trained Tuesday at Kronk Community Center in Detroit. “My family has been totally in control. I’ve been focused. I’ve been sleeping a lot, drinking a lot of water. I feel great.
“I’m usually a lot bigger, especially like the week of the fight. But I’m 5 pounds underweight. I can eat at night, and I can eat every night before the fight and make the weight, so it’s been a pretty good camp. I believe my arms look bigger than they did the last fight, so I’ve been working pretty hard.”
Claressa Shields, a Flint native and two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist, discusses her career and the legacy she plans to leave in women’s professional boxing. Video by Ryan Garza/DFP
Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press
Shields said she’s faster and stronger than the 30-year-old Adler, who has eight more years of boxing experience.
Shields said her only challenge since her most recent fight in June has been gaining enough weight to match Adler at 168 pounds. Normally, she fights at 165, and before she started boxing at that weight in the Olympics, she hovered around 147.
“Fighting at 168 is a little heavy for me,” she said. “I can make 160 tomorrow…. I can barely make 170, so I know I’d make this weight easy again.
“Getting ready for a 10-rounder, of course, it’s different than getting ready for an eight-rounder, so we’ve been doing a lot of sparring, a lot more running, making sure I’m in shape. I’ve had just totally different eating habits.”
Undefeated German boxer Nikki Adler trains for her upcoming fight with Claressa Shields on Tuesday, Aug. 1 at Kronk Community Center in Detroit. (Photo: Brandon Folsom, Special to the Detroit Free Press)
Shields thought she ate well for her eight-round fight vs. LeBlanc in June, but this time she has drilled down her diet, incorporating more vegetables and brown rice.
“Everything is real (food),” she said. “I’m just really focusing on making sure that I keep eating because I keep getting to 162, 161. We’re trying to keep some of the weight on instead of keeping it off. When you’re trying to be in shape, you work extra hard.”
Also working hard has been Adler, who will make her U.S. debut. She never has earned an invite to fight in the U.S. until Shields’ team reached out to her this year.
Adler trained Tuesday at Kronk, putting on a show for the public.
“I’m very happy to be here,” she said through a translator. “I’ve never watched Shields fight before. I’m really looking forward to facing her. It doesn’t matter where we fight — in America or Germany — I’m very courageous. I’m tough, and I’m not afraid to come to America to box.”
Adler said it feels amazing to know she gets to be the main event of a nationally televised fight and hopes to represent women’s boxing as well as she can.
She said she never has watched Shields fight, but her training team has, and they’ve created a plan for her to take down the American.
“We’ll both fight to the end,” Adler said. “I’m very sure about that. We both have the willingness to win, a strong will to win. This will create magic moments.”
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Showdown in Motown
What: Claressa Shields (3-0, 1 KO) vs. Nikki Adler (16-0, 9 KOs).
When: Friday, 10:30 p.m. (Showtime)
Where: MGM Grand Detroit.
At stake: WBC and IBF super middleweight belts.