Claressa Shields’s older brother was the man behind the assault that forced promoters to cancel a fight between the former Olympic champion and Ivana Habazin, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton announced Wednesday. Artis Jaquel Mack, Shields’s 28-year-old brother, was charged with one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder for sucker-punching James Ali Bashir, Habazin’s trainer, in the back of the head during the fight’s weigh-in event on Oct. 4.
The prosecutor’s announcement noted that Mack was apprehended after a cop saw him running from the building the event was being held in, and noticed that the runner matched the description of the suspect announced on police radio just moments earlier. The officer arrested Mack in a nearby neighborhood. Per MLive.com, Mack’s attorney released the following statement:
“Although the facts are unclear at this time” there is a video showing “inflammatory rhetoric leading up to the incident that may provide context to the alleged assault.”
It’s not clear whether the attorney is referring to the video of Bashir getting into a confrontation with Shields’s sister, who the trainer supposedly called a “bitch,” on the weigh-in stage, or some other clip. Shields, for her part, later said on social media that while she thought Bashir was being disrespectful, it did not justify what happened to him. She also added, “I didn’t tell nobody who was with me to do anything. It wasn’t nobody from my team.”
Following the assault, Bashir was taken to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery to treat facial fractures he suffered. Though he was released shortly after treatment, Bashir had to return to the hospital so that doctors could treat a brain bleed, according to Habazin herself. Claressa Shields’s co-manager Mark Taffet tweeted on Oct. 12 that Bashir had been released from the hospital and was at home recovering.