Within just five professional fights, Shields, also known as “T-Rex,” or a snatcher-of-all-edges, has already established a reputation for destroying any opponent put in front of her.
Unlike most fighters that are added to the list of prospects to watch before rising to stardom, Shields hasn’t needed a formal introduction into professional boxing world. This is largely in part to her standout performances in the Olympics—the first American boxer, male or female, to win gold back-to-back in 2012 and 2016.
Read on for the three keys to victory for Claressa Shields as she takes on Hanna Gabriels live on Showtime on Friday, June 22, 2018.
3 Keys to Victory for Claressa Shields
Jab, Jab, Jab
Shields should work the jab aggressively for at least the first round. Fortunately, she has a longer reach, so she can afford be more offensive with the jab, using powerful ones to intimidate Gabriels and cause her to second-guess her attacks.
Leading with the jab is also one of the easiest ways Shields can be aggressive in the first round without having to expend much energy.
She can take time to figure Gabriels out while still creating a dominating presence off the break. Once Shields establishes her jab, she can begin to move in and break Gabriels down with powerful combinations.
Cut Off the Ring
Though Gabriels has said her plan is to be aggressive with Claressa, she tends to stay on the outside move in a circle. So if this is her comfort zone, Shields needs to cut off the ring quickly (aka cut off Gabriels’ pattern of movement).
By doing so, Gabriels will be caught off guard by having to move in unexpected patterns and directions. While she’s distracted by having to reposition, Shields will already be throwing devastating combinations to the head and body.
Cutting off the ring isn’t a difficult task for a fighter like Shields, whose fighting style is predicated on being the aggressor. All she needs to do is stay in front of Gabriels to make her feel ineffective, trapped, and break her down each round.
Hooks and Crosses (Working the Head and Body)
Shields is known for her power, speed, and razor-sharp combinations. After she consistently works the jab and starts cutting off the ring, this is where the real work begins. Shields should think about throwing combinations working the head and body.
Gabriels has defensive holes that Shields can exploit. Case in point—after throwing a combination, Gabriels tends to drop her hands in punching range.
Shields can throw a combo to the body and top it off with a hook to the head to catch her off guard. The cross is one of Shields’ most power and effective punches, so she can use that to back Gabriels up and into a corner.
If by some miracle Gabriels can hold her own in the ring, Shields can throw multiple hooks to the body to wear her down over the rounds.
All photos by Laura Ming Wong/RBRBoxing