UPDATE: Loudoun County’s Tori Nelson goes the distance; Claressa Shields awarded unanimous decision

UPDATE: Loudoun County’s Tori Nelson goes the distance; Claressa Shields awarded unanimous decision

UPDATE: Loudoun County boxer and Ashburn IHOP waitress Tori Nelson battled through all 10 rounds against Claressa Shields in Showtime’s Shobox main event Friday night (Jan.12).

Shields, a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner and the reigning champion, was awarded a unanimous decision by the boxing judges.

Fans posted messages to Tori on social media already Friday night that included:

“You are still my champion.”

“So proud of you ‘Sho’Nuff.'”

“Tori Nelson is a class act. Great Mom, great fighter, great person.”

Shields is now 5-0 as a professional. In losing for the first time in her amateur or professional career, Nelson is now 17-1-3 as a pro boxer.

STORY POSTED 1/8/2018: Prime time. Big time. Now Showtime.

Tori “Sho’Nuff” Nelson, the Ashburn IHOP waitress turned professional boxing champion, will take a major step up in all those categories when she takes the ring Friday (Jan. 12) in a nationally televised bout.

Nelson grew up in southern Virginia and moved to Ashburn about 10 years ago. She drove a school bus for Loudoun County and would waitress at night. Now she is a waitress at the IHOP in Pipeline Plaza and has two adult children – daughter Simone, and son Q.

Nelson took up boxing 12 years ago when she was 29 to get some exercise and lose some weight. After being an undefeated Golden Gloves champion for three years, she decided to turn pro. Fighting largely in obscurity, she has gone on to post a 17-0-3 record and won about a half-dozen championship belts.

Either the undefeated record or the obscurity will come to an end Friday when Nelson takes on two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (4-0 with two knockouts) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The bout is the main event on ShoBox: The New Generation on Showtime at 10 p.m.

For her part, Nelson is approaching the fight with her usual confidence and determination.

“There’s no pressure on me – none at all,” Nelson said. “For me it’s a win-win. I know I’m going to beat her. She is their person. She is the one who is supposed to be the face of women’s boxing. She is the younger fighter. She is the more active boxer. All the pressure is on her.”

Nelson said she is preparing like she does for every bout, according to the coaching of her Craig Fladager. She won’t change her style against Shields, although she is aware of her opponent’s main strength.

“Her speed,” Nelson said. “I know she has good speed. But I train for every fight differently according to whatever my coach says. He watches the fighters, and every fight I am a different fighter.”

Nelson and her team follow a strategy that is tried and tested from the legends of the sports.

“Going back to Muhammad Ali, they say you fight a boxer and you box a fighter,” Nelson said. “So if she comes out and wants to fight, I will box her. If she sits downs and wants to box, I will fight her.”

Fladager said Nelson will rely on her own strength – her instincts — which he identified the first time he saw her in the ring.

“You can’t teach tenacity — the instincts of fighting,” Fladager said. “I could see that right away, the first time she got hit.

“Most people when they get hit, they fall back and need to recover. She fought. Her instinct was to hit back.”

Nelson’s last fight was a two-round, TKO of Tasha Barton at Silver Eagle Group Arena in Ashburn, the first time she was able to fight in front of her Loudoun County supporters.

“I didn’t expect it to end so quickly, but I’m really thankful for my Ashburn crew and all my supporters in Loudoun and the DMV,” she said.

Nelson and her team are already in New York, where she is making final preparations and trying to relax and stay healthy ahead of the fight.

“We will just keep strategizing, just keep going over what we have been doing in the gym,” she said. “I want to make sure I don’t come down with a cold or something and just get plenty of rest. That is the main thing. Just keep staying on point and trying to stay sharp.”

Nelson has a message for her “crew” back in Loudoun County and the Washington, D.C., area.

“Just keep me prayed up and watch me and support me on the 12th,” she said. “I will make sure to bring all those belts back to Ashburn for us.”

Joseph Dill