BOXING

Jonny Nelson: Caroline Dubois the ‘heir apparent’ to Claressa Shields

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Caroline Dubois is Claressa Shields’ “heir apparent”, says Sky Sports’ Jonny Nelson; Chris Billam-Smith predicts the London fighter will be the GOAT; watch Dubois take on Magali Rodriguez this Saturday live on Sky Sports

Caroline Dubois is fighting the Mexican street fighter-turned-pro Magali Rodriguez for her first world title – the IBO lightweight championship – live on Sky Sports this Saturday.

Sky Sports’ Jonny Nelson says Dubois has “captured everyone’s attention”, labelling her the “heir apparent” to Claressa Shields ahead of the fight that could see the 22-year-old world champion for the first time.

“From turning professional, Caroline has captured everyone’s attention from the seasoned pros, from fighters like Claressa Shields who could end up being Caroline’s foe,” said Nelson.

Claressa Shields

“Her skill, her instinct, her punch power, energy and ambition – everything about it is ridiculous for someone of such little professional experience.”

Having won two Olympic gold medals and a plethora of world titles, Claressa Shields is a leading figure in the sport, and has spoken about the exciting era women’s boxing is entering as the talent pool increases.

“Claressa supports her massively,” said Nelson.

“Caroline is the heir apparent and it’s a big shout to make that call about a fighter in such an early stage of her professional career.

“Fans are excited by it and seasoned professionals just know it.

“The depth of talent that’s out there at the moment, you could put Caroline in with most of them because she’s very ambitious, she does everything right.

“You talk to her outside the ring, she’s so quiet, so polite, so respectful but as soon as the bell goes, she’s gone, she’s off.”

Claressa Shields

Will ‘spiteful’ Dubois steal the show again?

Sky Sports’ Mathew Macklin is expecting the 22-year-old Londoner to live up to the hype as she headlines for the first time in her short career.

“Every performance, she’s stealing the show,” said Macklin.

“She’s gone from strength to strength every single performance. She’s been getting stoppages, she’s showed she can go the distance, she’s got great hand speed, shot selection – out of the women, she’s been the real stand-out talent.”

Dubois won on her professional debut in February 2022 and then claimed five straight stoppages before winning on points against Yanina del Carmen Lescano.

She is now just one fight away from her first world title and Macklin says this is the first of many.

Claressa Shields

“This is the IBO title, but I think she will become a bonified world champion, no doubt, in the future,” said Macklin

“People have been singing her praises and predicting that for her from her professional debut, and that was probably her worst performance even though it was still a great performance – she was probably a little bit over-eager on the night.

“Since then, she’s been faultless.

“She’s a really spiteful body-puncher as well – she’s a right-handed southpaw, and she really digs those right hooks in, she’s got a great jab as well.”

Billam-Smith: Dubois will be the GOAT

WBO cruiserweight world champion Chris Billam-Smith was at Thursday’s open workout, and told Sky Sports that he believes Dubois can become the best female fighter the sport has ever seen.

“The only thing stopping Caroline is herself,” said Billam-Smith, who is looking to return to the ring in November.

Claressa Shields

“She’s so young, so inexperienced, and once she gets that experience, it’ll come.

“I think if she stays on the path she’s on, she’ll be the greatest woman of all time – I believe that by the time she retires, she will be.”

“I definitely agree with the first part,” said Dubois in response. “And I’m trying to make the second part happen.

“I just have to keep on putting on big performances, big statements, big wins, and that will make my legacy as the greatest woman.

“She [Rodriguez] looks in shape, slim and trim, like she’s trained hard. She didn’t give much away in the pads, so I didn’t see anything from there.

“I’m just expecting a good fight, and I think she’ll be very relaxed in the ring, smiling and it’s up to me to make her uncomfortable.

“I’m here to mess stuff up.

“The sparring has been brutal, I’ve had to dig deep, and it hasn’t all gone my way, so I’ll be taking that into the ring and putting that pain on her.

“Magali is supposed to be the toughest challenge of my career, so my job is to show that I’m levels above this woman – world level.”

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