The Showtime Saturday night main event Women’s World Junior Middleweight title fight in Flint, MI, between unbeaten champion Claressa Shields and top ranked Contender Ivana Habazin has been called off. This after a bizarre incident at the weigh-in for the fight Friday afternoon.
ESPN’s boxing writer Steve Kim had more details about the trainer for the challenger Habazin, James Basher Ali, who was knocked unconscious prior his fighter weighing in by an unidentified assailant. The assailant, then fled the room after knocking him out:
— Steve Kim (@StevESPNKim) October 4, 2019
According to Kim, video from earlier at the weigh-in for the Showtime boxing card revealed Ali in a dispute with another unidentified person. And, it’s not clear if that’s the same person that later assaulted him.
Ali was reportedly unconscious for close to twenty minutes before being taken by stretcher to a Detroit Hospital. Habazin went with him to the hospital.
Showtime later announced Friday evening the Shields’ title defense would be cancelled and their scheduled three fight card to be televised starting Saturday night at 9 p.m. eastern time would now become a two fight card.
At this stage @SHOsports will still have a fight tomorrow but it will not feature #ShieldsHabazin as Habazin’s trainer is heading for Detroit for facial surgery following his attack. Ennis v Fernandez & Franklin v Sour will headline.
— Jimmy Lennon Jr (@TheClassyJr) October 4, 2019
As our Marquis Johns wrote on Friday morning, Saturday was to be a big night for Shields fighting in her hometown.The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) is a two-division titleist, who became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near-shutout victory over Christina Hammer in April on SHOWTIME.
In doing so, she joined Terence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Oleksandr Usyk, and Cecilia Braekhus, as the only fighters to have unified all four major world titles in any weight class (Katie Taylor has recently joined this list).
Habazin is a 29 year old Croatian, who is 20-3 and a former world title holder. Basher Ali, is a former trainer in the famed Detroit Kronk Gym and has worked with Habazin for years.
Flint TV reporter Jonathan Deutsch had more here from the scene Friday afternoon.
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) October 4, 2019
Deutsch reported that the assault happened in the front row of seats, as the unidentified male ran up to him a punched him in the face. Flint, Michigan authorities have one suspect in custody in the assault of Basher Ali and their investigation continues.
This Shields title defense had been previously delayed, because of her injuring her ankle earlier this summer and causing her to stop training for an extended time.