Saturday’s junior middleweight title fight between two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin was cancelled after James Ali Bashir, Habazin’s veteran trainer, got sucker punched in the back of the head at the weigh-in. Bashir was knocked unconscious for about 20 minutes, according to ESPN, before he was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery. The assailant fled the scene before he could be apprehended.
While no video of the hit itself exists, there is video of Bashir being tended to after he was hit and taken to the hospital on a stretcher. There’s also a clip of Bashir getting into it with someone from Shields’s camp, according to Jonathan Deutsch of NBC 25.
Shields confirmed on her Instagram that the woman Bashir was arguing with was her sister, and that the trainer kept calling her sister a “bitch,” but added that him being “disrespectful” in no way justified what happened to him. Shields also seemed to call out her opponent, egging on Habazin to go through with the fight at a later date and saying that her opponent shouldn’t look for excuses.
Habazin responded on her Facebook page, calling Shields and her camp “classless,” while providing her side of the story.
The fight was supposed to be Shields’ heavily anticipated homecoming to Flint, Mich., as well as Habazin’s first fight in the United States. Neither participant took part in the event’s weigh-in when it resumed on Friday.