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THE RING IS MY HOME: IVANA HABAZIN INTERVIEW

A two-time world champion, a three-time world title challenger and with 23 fights on her record, Croatian super welterweight Ivana Habazin is one of the most experienced and successful active female boxers in the world. Next, she faces American amateur sensation Claressa Shields  for the WBO World Super Welterweight Title and the  WBC Diamond Super Welterweight Title, taking place in Shields’ home town of Flint, Michigan.

With the fight, Shields aims to win a world title in a third weight class  in only her 10th professional contest. Ivana intends to spoil Shields’ party, taking time out from training to tell me she doesn’t care where the fight happens.

The fight, which was rescheduled after Shields picked up an injury, has just been announced will now take place on October 5th.

Southpaw Jab: You face one of the biggest names in women’s boxing, Claressa Shields, for the vacant WBO super-welterweight title. How did the fight come about?

Ivana Habazin: Yes, she is definitely the biggest name in women’s boxing right now. I was waiting for a big opportunity, for a big fight, and this fight for me is all or nothing. Our team had several negotiations in the past, but now we have everything agreed and I think the fight came at the right time for me.

SPJ: The fight, originally for August 17th, has been postponed due to Shields suffering an injury. Do you know when the new date will be?

IH: Right now we still don’t have the new date, but it will probably be in October.

SPJ: You’re training in Bogota at the moment. Why Bogota?

IH: This is my second training camp in Bogota. This country [Columbia] is really great and people here are amazing. I have great conditions for training here and I really enjoy it; I have peace and I am far away from home, and this is very good for me because I can focus fully on the fight. This is the biggest chance for me and I don’t wanna make any mistakes. I missed my brother’s wedding because I was training, so you know how important this fight is for me.

“It will not be easy, everything is on her side, but I believe I can win”

SPJ: You have competed in several different countries throughout your career. For this fight, you are travelling internationally again to face Shields in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. How important will this be?

IH: I like to be the challenger, especially when I’m coming to an opponent’s hometown. It motivates me more. But, for me, it’s not important whether I fight in Flint or London; the ring is my home, and when I’m in the ring, all I want is a victory. So in this fight I will go for victory, it will not be easy, everything is on her side, but I believe I can win.

SPJ: You have previously held the IBF title at welterweight, and the IBO title at middleweight. Do you think that super-welterweight is a natural weight for you?

IH: My natural division is welterweight, at that weight I feel the best. Middleweight was tough for me, but there are no excuses, I believe I can win any fight with good preparation. When I moved up to middleweight it was because of Claressa, because I wanna fight the best. Now we will fight at super-welterweight, and I think I have advantage here because I don’t need to lose weight. I feel sharp and I am in a good shape already, so over the next couple of months I can only improve.

SPJ: The difficult question: Shields is a former amateur superstar who has won the Gold medal in two Olympic Games. She was a world champion by her 4th professional fight, a two-weight world champion by her 6th, and has just unified the middleweight division against one of the best current female boxers. How do you beat her?

IH: Like I said before, she has amazing results, I respect her, but I said too that every human being has weaknesses and Claressa is no exception to the rule.

SPJ: Marie Eva Dicaire (IBF), Hanna Gabriels (WBA), Ewa Piatkowska (WBC) and Hannah Rankin (IBO) are also champions at super-welterweight. Would you be interested in fighting them too?

“Boxing is our life and we female fighters give all we have to this sport, but still at the end, the prizes are small if we compare women’s boxing and men’s”

IH: Right now all my focus in on Claressa Shields and I don’t think about other fights. I have one rule: First jump and then say “hop“.

SPJ: Women’s boxing is so exciting at the moment. What are the big differences now, compared to when you began your career?

IH: Women’s boxing now gets more credit than when I started 10 years ago, and that is really great. Every female fighter is a true warrior. Boxing is our life and we give all we have to this sport, but still at the end, the prizes are small if we compare women’s boxing and men’s. I think there are a lot of young girls, big prospects, and they don’t have a chance without a strong background to show how good they are, but I hope the future will bring more investment in women’s boxing and that we will have more amazing fighters and champions.

SPJ: Who is your favourite boxer and why?

IH: Wladimir Klitschko. He is a legend. He was a great champion, always disciplined, calm, he is a real example of how a champion is supposed to be. He is a gentleman, educated and very intelligent and of course he is really really handsome!

SPJ: What do you like to do outside of boxing?

IH: I don’t have too much time outside boxing, but usually I spent time with my family and friends, and I love to play with my dogs or I study. I also have a lots of work on new projects for the Croatian Association for Thyroid Diseases, where I am vice-president.

SPJ: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

IH: I think I said everything!

Follow Ivana on Twitter @IvanaHabazin

SHIELDS vs HABAZIN, FLINT, MICHIGAN USA – OCTOBER 5th, WBO Super Welterweight World Title & WBC Super Welterweight Diamond
The fight will be live on Showtime in the USA, UK broadcaster not confirmed yet

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