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Claressa Shields Ready for Pan American Olympic Festival

Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields is in Mexico City this week for the Pan American Olympic Festival, a multi-sport event.

There are five athletes scheduled to compete in her weight division, but she won’t find out her opponent until the tournament draw.

Boxing competition is scheduled to run from July 16-20, but Shields confirmed Wednesday, July 16, that she won’t be fighting on the opening day.

“It’ll take focus. The preparation is already done,” Shields said. “There are some countries here that I’ve never had the chance to box before, so I’ll definitely have to make my adjustments to land clean-and-hard shots.”

The 19-year-old fighter from Flint, is one of four athletes representing the United States in the event, joining fellow Olympians Marlen Esparza and Queen Underwood and a male boxer, Cam F.

Shields won another gold medal in her last bout Saturday, May 31, at the Cheo Aponte Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico. She first drew worldwide attention as a 17-year-old in 2012 when she became America’s first female gold medalist for boxing as a middleweight at the London Olympic Games.

Shields parted ways with her longtime FWC Berston boxing coach Jason Crutchfield shortly after winning her first USA Boxing Elite National Championship women’s title in January. She decided to work with Leon Lawson Jr., uncle of pro boxers Andre and Anthony Dirrell, ever since and completed the bulk of her training for this tournament just outside of Miami in South Florida with Lawson, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell and Junior Olympic National Champion Leon Lawson III.

Shields feels like she got pushed to her max in training camp for this tournament and looks to put on a show.

“I’m super motivated by (Andre Direll’s) situation and just that I had the opportunity to see how it’s done by a professional,” Shields said. “I didn’t just watch, I trained every day with Andre. We talked not just boxing but about life and what we both are capable of.”

Leon Lawson Jr. worked with Shields on conditioning and getting lighter on her feet for these matches.

Crutchfield says he hasn’t talked to Shields much in the past few months but still “wishes her the best.”

“Yes, I feel very prepared but even with that being said I don’t underestimate anyone,” said Shields. “I’m going to go in there and fight like my life depends on it, every fight.”

Source: Eric Woodyard, mlive.com

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