Shields And Habazin Argue Over Fight Contract
Last week a rescheduled date of January 10th was set for Ivana Habazin and Claressa Shields to battle for the vacant WBC and WBO super welterweight titles, which featured a press release with quotes from both fighters.
Now, Habazin is claiming Shields is ducking her and is negotiating for the already announced fight in bad faith.
“I want this statement to go out because I want the boxing public to know that Claressa is looking for a way out of this fight for the third time,” Habazin stated in a statement submitted by her team to Boxing Scene. “All that rubbish she’s spewing is her nerves getting the best of her. Ever since my trainer James Ali Bashir was attacked by Claressa’s brother Artis Mack on October 4, 2019, I’ve made one statement to the media.
“On November 16, 2019 Claressa made a live video on Instagram where she claims that I referred to her as a “thug”. In the video she states that “she is going to break my face” and “beat my ass.” Sounds bold coming from Claressa who along with her promoter Salita Promotions, have been looking for any excuse to avoid fighting me. I understand that Claressa’s reading comprehension is not good so I excuse her for saying I called her a “thug” which is not true.”
“The reference to the word “thug” was directed at her brother Artis Mack who in fact is the convicted felon who committed the cowardly act of sucker-punching my trainer. James Ali Bashir,” Habazin clarified. “On October 4th, Bashir was rushed to two hospitals in Michigan where he was admitted and required immediate emergency surgery. After his release, doctors noticed that there was bleeding in his brain, and determined that he suffered a stroke as a result of her brother’s cowardly act. Bashir has many unresolved effects from his injury and is under the care of several specialists. His road to recovery will be a long process. Sadly, he will not be in my corner if Claressa ever shows up to fight me.
“At first, [Shields} was nice and apologetic, not because it was the right thing to do, but because her handlers instructed her to show some class in order to avoid bad press and further tarnish her classless image. Claressa is trying to make this out to be a black vs white thing. To those who know me, they know the road I have traveled to get to where I am. They know I left home at 14 years of age. They know that I lived by myself in the basement of a boxing gym, with the heating system going on and off all night. There were no windows. I’m sure it was worse than the prison cell where Claressa’s brother is in today.”
“Her promoter just got notice of a lawsuit from James Ali Bashir’s attorney for the October 4th incident where there was no security among other things,” Habazin said of Dmitriy Salita and Salita Promotions. “Isn’t is funny that all of a sudden he refuses to negotiate my purse in good faith and adds onerous [rematch] clauses in his bout contract that are against the WBC and WBO rules? [Sanctioning bodies prohibit the practice of rematch clauses for vacant title fights, with past titlists stripped for honoring a rematch clause rather than the governing body’s rules]. Coincidence you ask? This has been going on from day one. So now, I have to fight Claressa and her promoter (Salita Promotions founder and former contender Dmitriy Salita, whose comment to BoxingScene.com is forthcoming) at the same time.
“All your vile videos and trash talking prove to me that you’re nervous and looking for a way out. Train hard Claressa, I don’t want to hear any excuses if you get the courage to show up and fight me. I want to thank Showtime President Mr. Stephen Espinoza for not allowing your promoter to substitute me so you can have your way with an easier opponent [for the Oct. 5 event, which went on as scheduled save for the original main event] even though you and your promoter have tried this unsuccessfully. In your video you keep mentioning how great you think you are. You bring out the race card. Leave race out of this. This ain’t about black or white. It about you and me.
“Stop trying to get out of fighting me. Try your best to “break my face” and “beat my ass” like you said in your classless video. Claressa, to do that you first need to stop making excuses and hiding behind your promoter and show up for the fight. You feel me?”
Shields’ team responded in kind to Habazin’s statement claiming that Salita Promotions followed the guidelines in the bout agreement they both signed.
“Claressa and Ivana both signed agreements and were scheduled to fight in Flint, Michigan on October 5,” Dmitriy Salita, Shields’ promoter explained to BoxingScene.com in an immediate reply to Thursday’s story. “When the bout was postponed [for a second time], we moved immediately to reschedule the fight within the four-month period permitted by the bout agreements’ standard rescheduling clause. Although we were under no obligation to do so, we agreed to an increased purse for Ivana in consideration of the fact that she incurred expenses in training for the October 5 fight and would have to re-incur costs to prepare for the rescheduled bout.
“In October after the postponement, her representative indicated in writing Ivana’s agreement to the new purse amount. We rescheduled the fight for January 10 in Atlantic City on Showtime and informed her team. In addition, Ivana and her team provided a quote for Showtime’s press release announcing the fight last week.”
“[Wednesday], after the press release announcing the fight, and with just seven weeks to go until this world title fight, Team Habazin called me and indicated that she intends to withdraw from the fight unless the purse is renegotiated,” Salita stated. “Very simply, this is not how Salita Promotions conducts business.
“Today [Thursday, Nov. 21] we sent notice to her team that unless they inform us in writing by tomorrow that Ivana intends to move forward with the January 10 bout, we will have no choice but to move forward with another opponent. Salita Promotions wants this fight. Claressa Shields wants this fight. We hope Ivana and her team respond affirmatively by [Friday].”