Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields (1-0) of Flint, Mich., and bantamweight contender Nikolay Potapov (16-0-1, 8 KOs) of Podolsk, Russia, worked out for the media on Tuesday in advance of their ShoBox: The New Generation televised bouts for Salita Promotions’ “Detroit City Gold” on Friday, March 10, at MGM Grand Detroit, and live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT).
The first women’s boxing main event to be featured on premium television, Shields’ history making fight will be a six-round battle against Hungary’s Szilvia “Sunset” Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs) for the Women’s NABF Middleweight Championship.
In the co-featured bout, Potapov, currently training at the Kronk Gym, will challenge Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves (17-0-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round fight for his NABO Bantamweight Championship.
In the eight-round televised bantamweight opener, Detroit-based bantamweight prospect James Smith (11-0, 6 KOs) will take on Chicago’s Joshua Greer, Jr. (11-1-1, 4 KOs). In the other eight-round televised bout of the exciting quadrupleheader, welterweight Wesley Tucker (13-0, 8 KOs) Toledo, Ohio, faces Detroit’s Ed Williams (12-1-1, 4 KOs).
Tickets for “Detroit City Gold” are priced at $250, $150, $100 and $50, and are available at Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by phone at 800.745.3000.
Below is what the fighters had to say:
“I made history in the amateurs, so it’s very special to me to be making history in the pros too and also doing it so close to home in Detroit.
“For this fight, I did more road work and also worked hard on my fundamentals. With my coach, Jason Crutchfield, in my corner he knows my weaknesses and strong points, so we are strengthening all weaknesses.
“I know that Szabados has a lot of body endurance and a ‘no quit’ mindset in the ring. She has a lot more professional experience than me and is a huge step up for me, as it is only my second professional fight.
“With my reputation and name steady rising and me getting a lot of notoriety, I have really just been handling it by taking a few deep breaths and just not allowing myself to get too excited. When I think about March 10, I just wanna jump up and down!
“When I was an amateur, I followed women’s professional boxing the best I could. I thought a lot of women weren’t given equal opportunity. I told myself that for women’s boxing to grow, I’d have to go pro after winning the Olympics again. I felt in my heart that I would be respected and given a chance. I take advantage of every opportunity, so as of now, I feel women’s boxing is a sport that is going to be around for a long time.”
“Nieves is good fighter, and he’s ranked in the top 10. I want to fight the best available in my division. A win over Nieves would be huge for my career and would hopefully lead to a shot at a title in the near future. I can’t lose on March 10.
“I trained hard to go the distance of 10 rounds, but Kronk’s philosophy is not to leave it in the hands of the judges.
“I am thankful to Showtime and Salita Promotions for giving me another opportunity to fight on such a prestigious network. I am focused on bringing home the victory after spending time in Detroit training at the legendary Kronk Gym. “
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields will make her professional television debut on ShoBox: The New Generation, a series that has sparked the careers of 67 future world champions, on Friday, March 10, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from MGM Grand Detroit Event Center in Detroit, Michigan.
Shields (1-0) is facing Hungary’s Szilvia “Sunset” Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs), a former world title challenger, in the first women’s boxing match to headline on premium television. The fight will take place down the road from Shield’s hometown of Flint, Mich.
Shields is the most accomplished amateur boxer in U.S. history – male or female – and the only American boxer to capture back-to-back gold medals at the Olympic Games.
“It is a dream come true to be the first woman to headline a boxing card on premium television,” said Shields. “March 10 will be a historic night for boxing and all of the women who give so much to advance our sport. I am proud to be fighting for the NABF title in my second pro bout. I want to thank SHOWTIME, MGM Grand Detroit and Salita Promotions for this opportunity, and I will do everything to give my home state fans and the viewers a night to remember.”
Szabados said, “Fighters always say their next fight is the most important one of their career, but you get an opportunity like this, and it really is. This is an unbelievable dream. I am very happy to be receiving this opportunity. I know this fight is important for Claressa also, and I don’t really know what will happen in the ring. We both want to win. Claressa has more amateur experience, but I have more experience as a professional. It’s going to be an exciting night.”
Tickets for the event promoted by Salita Promotions go on sale Friday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. est and are priced at $250, $150, $100 and $50. They will be available at www.ticketmaster.com.
Promoter Dmitriy Salita said, “I am honored to be putting on this event at the fantastic MGM Grand Detroit, featuring American hero Claressa Shields on ShoBox: The New Generation. Detroit is America’s greatest comeback city and I am thrilled that she has chosen MGM Grand Detroit as the site to fight for her first professional title on March 10. Although it is just her second professional fight, Claressa has chosen a former world title challenger for her opponent, a tough Hungarian named Szilvia Szabados, a woman who knows what’s at stake if she can win that night. We’ve got a terrific card from top to bottom in support of this fantastic main event as well, featuring some of Detroit’s brightest up-and-coming prospects, as well as some national and international flavor. Detroit deserves to have world-class events such as this and I’m very proud to be able to bring it here.”
Shields won her first Olympic Gold when she was 17 years old in the inaugural women’s boxing competition at the London Games in 2012. She defended her title at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, becoming the only American boxer to defend amateur sports’ premier championship.
The 21-year-old Shields cruised to a 77-1 amateur record before turning professional last November, winning her first bout via unanimous decision on a non-televised undercard in Las Vegas. She now returns home as a headliner to take on the veteran Szabados in a six-round middleweight bout.
ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood: “Women’s boxing in America has its best chance of revival because of the emergence of Claressa Shields. Women’s boxing is pretty big in certain countries, but it really hasn’t been a factor in the United States since Laila Ali and, before her, Christy Martin. Being the only U.S. boxer to win two gold medals, Claressa has instant credibility and star appeal and those two things are going to lead to wide exposure.
“She has a great back story, she’s an exciting fighter to watch and she’s instantly likeable.”
Simply put, Shields found solace in boxing to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges in her childhood. She’s become a vocal advocate for many social causes, including the ongoing water crisis in her hometown of Flint, women’s rights, and campaigning against sexual assault. An inspirational figure and motivational speaker, Shields represents a beacon of hope for a working-class city that struggles with violence, poverty, and everyday essentials.
In taking on a former world title challenger and fighting for the NABF middleweight championship in only her second fight, Shields continues to make immediate strides as a professional like fellow Flint native Floyd Mayweather, who won his first world title when he was 21.
Szabados challenged for a world title in July 2015 in her ninth professional fight, losing a decision to undefeated WBC Super Middleweight Champion Nikki Adler in Germany. The native of Miskolc, Hungary has faced two former world champions, Mikaela Lauren and Noni Tenge, and has won via knockout in three of her last five victories.
In her U.S. debut, Szabados lost a 10-round decision to then-undefeated prospect Alicia Napoleon on January 29, 2016, in Queens, N.Y. The 26-year-old has remained active since turning professional in 2014. She fought eight fights in 2016, and already has a win in 2017 via fifth round KO over Diana Marcz in January in Budapest, Hungary.
Six prospects will round out the ShoBox: The New Generation televised bouts for Salita Promotions’ “Detroit City Gold” on Friday, March 10, at MGM Grand Detroit, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT).
In addition to the history-making six-round main event featuring two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields (1-0) of Flint, Mich., taking on Hungary’s Szilvia “Sunset” Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs) for the Women’s NABF Middleweight Championship, there will be a trio of exciting bouts between rising prospects with a combined record of 80-2-5 with 39 KOs.
“Detroit City Gold” will mark the first time in history a women’s boxing match has headlined on premium television. Shields and Szabados will also be the first women’s fight on ShoBox, a series that has sparked the careers of 67 future world champions.
Antonio Nieves vs. Nikolay Potapov – 10-Round Bantamweight Bout
The co-main event will feature a 10-round battle between top-10 ranked bantamweight contenders Antonio Nieves (17-0-2, 9 KOs) and Nikolay Potapov (16-0-1, 8 KOs). Nieves is ranked No. 4 in the WBO, while Potapov is ranked No. 9 by the WBO, No. 10 by WBA and No. 13 by the IBF.
Nieves, a top amateur, was a five-time Cleveland Metro Golden Gloves Champion. In 2011, he was the National Golden Gloves runner-up and U.S. Nationals Bronze Medalist at 123 pounds.
A pro since November 2011, he won the initial 12 fights of his career before boxing to an eight-round draw with Stephon Young on June 20, 2015. The NABO bantamweight champion, he has gone 6-0-1 since and is coming off a second-round TKO over Szilvester Ajtai last Nov. 26. In August 2016, he fought to a 10-round split draw against Mexico’s Alejandro Santiago on ShoBox.
Because they are both residents of Ohio, Nieves has long clamored for a showdown with former WBA Champion and fellow 118-lb contender Rau’shee Warren. A victory over Potapov may put him in the right position to have his wish granted later this year.
“I feel great about this opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it,” said Nieves. “He’s a good fighter. He comes forward and throws a lot of punches. He’s got a solid foundation. I believe it’ll be a good fight but, overall, I’ll be able to outbox him. I can make him make mistakes and take advantage of it. I will be 100 percent ready to show everybody the real Antonio Nieves. I’ll use my legs more and throw a lot of combinations. I will box my way to my big shot.”
The 26-year-old Potapov was an outstanding amateur with international success. The 5-foot-4 native of Russia had around 200 fights before he turned pro in March 2010. He went 13-0 as a pro in Russia before his U.S. debut.
Potapov had a 14-fight winning streak ended when he boxed still-undefeated prospect Stephon Young (13-0 going in) to a 10-round majority draw on April 15, 2016, on ShoBox. Potapov, who felt he had done more than enough to earn a victory, entered the ring ranked 10th in the IBF, rare for a fighter at that point in his career.
Since the disappointing result against Young, Potapov has fought twice, leaving nothing in the hands of the judges by winning both by early round knockout. He’s coming off a fourth-round TKO over Alexander Saltykov last Dec. 15.
“I have been training in Russia and am excited to be in Detroit (since Feb. 1) training at the Kronk Gym with world-class trainer Javan SugarHill Steward,” Potapov said. “Antonio Nieves is a very talented fighter and I look forward to a great exciting fight of skill and will on March 10.”
Wesley Tucker vs. Ed Williams – Eight Round Welterweight Bout
Also on ShoBox: The New Generation will be an eight-round welterweight battle between local prospects with much to prove, Wesley Tucker (13-0, 8 KOs) and Ed Williams (12-1-1, 4 KOs).
The 29-year-old Tucker, of Toledo, Ohio, was a standout amateur. He was the 2012 National Golden Gloves runner-up at 152 pounds and had over 250 amateur fights. As a professional, he’s stayed relatively active since his debut in February 2013, but the 5-foot-8 southpaw has been virtually untested. Tucker will be looking to score his first significant professional victory against Williams.
“I feel good. Excited about the opportunity,” said Tucker. “He’s a tough fighter from Detroit. But I’m better. I’ve seen every kind of style there is. You can expect fireworks that night. I’m 100 percent ready.”
Detroit’s Ed Williams is coming off a unanimous decision victory over then 6-1 Christon Edwards, last July at the MGM in Las Vegas. The 27-year-old suffered his lone career loss in November 2015 via unanimous decision to Marcus Beckford in Beckford’s home state of Louisiana. As an amateur, Williams was a two-time Michigan State Champion and a two-time Detroit Golden Gloves Champion.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity to fight at home and on TV,” said Williams. “It’s the first fight at the MGM, first women’s bout to headline. There’s a lot of firsts going on that night and it’s a big stage, but I’m not afraid of anything. I don’t know much about Tucker other than he’s from Oho and he’s shorter than me. I’m just going to prepare for everything. One thing about me — I’m a gladiator. If he doesn’t show up to go to war, I will get him out of there. Training is going great. I’m in Houston for this camp. I’m working on a lot of things and getting sharper and staying busy.”
James Gordon Smith vs. Joshua Greer, Jr. – Eight Round Bantamweight Bout
Opening the telecast will be an eight-round bantamweight “Detroit vs. Chicago” showdown between James Smith (11-0, 6 KOs) and Joshua Greer, Jr. (11-1-1, 4 KOs).
The 26-year-old Smith was a standout amateur, going 110-9 en route to a bronze medal at the National Golden Gloves. He holds an amateur win over current top-10 bantamweight Antonio Nieves.
Smith, a 5-foot-4, is making his ninth start in Michigan, his seventh in Detroit and first at MGM Grand. A six-year pro, Smith has been victorious in three consecutive matches since a no-contest on Feb. 6, 2016. He is coming off a second-round TKO over Szilveszter Ajtai last Jan. 22 in his fourth consecutive scrap at Masonic Temple in Detroit.
“This is a great opportunity to better my career and keep moving it into the right place,” said Smith. “A victory would get me ranked and keep me moving up the ladder. Plus the world will get to see me for the first time. I want to put on a good show, no matter how it goes. I just want it to be a competitive and exciting fight.”
Greer, a 22-year-old Chicago native, was a Chicago Golden Gloves Champion. He will be coming down in weight to face Smith, having normally campaigned around 120 pounds. He was last seen stopping Cristian Renteria in the fifth round in October of last year. Before that he took the undefeated record of the Dominican Republic’s Juan Gabriel Medina (then 10-0, 9 KOs) via unanimous six-round decision.
Greer suffered the lone loss of his career in the fifth fight of his career, a majority four-round decision against fellow unbeaten Stephen Fulton in December 2015.
“I feel really good about this. I’m ready and can’t wait for it to happen,” said Greer. “I don’t know much about James Smith, but I know we fought the same opponent, Antwan Robertson, and he got dropped by him. And I stopped him within 24 seconds of the first round. Training is going great. I have the best sparring you can ask for, guys like Adrian Granados, Eddie Ramirez, Hank Lundy. I will be well prepared for this fight. If it was tomorrow, I’d be ready.”
Priced at $250, $150, $100 and $50, tickets for “Detroit City Gold” are available at Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by phone at 800.745.3000.