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Claressa Shields, the forgotten pound-for-pound fighter

Claressa Shields is the pound-for-pound fighter that doesn’t get mentioned amongst pound-for-pound fighter based on her gender, rightfully or wrongly, as some writers feel uncomfortable adding a female fighter to an all male pound-for-pound list.

Shields, a 2012 and 2016 women’s Olympic gold medalist, has seen her stature as a professional become an uphill battle, not unlike her predecessors like Ava Knight or even contemporaries such as Heather “The Heat” Hardy, fairly or unfairly, a group of boxing fans just won’t give women’s boxing a chance, and are unwilling to change their stance. Outside of a knockdown in her last bout to Hannah Gabriels, she has been impressively dominating. In fact, let’s go over all that has done.

  • Shields is a two-time U.S. gold medalist at the Olympics
  • In her fourth professional bout, Shields won two world titles from longtime champion Nikki Adler after stopping her in the fifth round
  • Speaks up for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Now, in short, Shields has accomplished something not many fighters have done in a short while, but cynics will point at the weight class of super middleweight and say there is a diminished amount of opponents for Shields to face. That being said in seven professional bouts she might have only lost two rounds, all while fighting essentially the best opposition she can.

Shields, who returns this Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Ca, will look to further her case as she faces Femke Hermans, the women Alicia Napoleon beat to win a world title. Shields at a media day even spoke to that specific point.

“I know that Femke Hermans lost against Alicia Napoleon and I know I can beat her.” said Shields.

The quote somewhat speaks also to what I feel is a problem with Shields, she is a very good fighter and very honest in her opinions, but in every way a fighter, and seemingly always looking for a fight. Social media hasn’t been kind to her as it feels like troll accounts on all platforms have picked up on this mocked and belittled her to get a reaction from her for their own gain. The problem with that is, we’re used to seeing our champions ignore the general public and even having someone run their own social media accounts, and the realness of someone interacting with people, at times is a bit jarring.

Shields, to me, is a talented fighter, and a young person, figuring life out while immensely talented, she has said some very awkward statements on social media as I listed above. Yet at only age 23, I would like to think this part of a growing phase of life, in which in due time, life experience may change her perception and interaction with the world.

“I’m happy for all the support I’ve gotten and to be able to inspire others. Being a role model isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being real.”said Shields, which stuck with me.

Shields may have flaws at times and make awkward statements, but it is who she is, and not unlike a YouTube vlogger young people grow up with, Shields lets her life be in the public forefront and allows those who wanted to know about her candidly grow alongside her. In an age in watered-down athletes responses, there is something refreshing about that the fact that Shields is unfiltered.

Back to the fight on Saturday, Shields will be walked to the ring by UFC/MMA world champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, who also is a sparring partner of Shields. Cris “Cyborg” is really trying to get a bout between herself and the main eventer of the final HBO card, Cecilia Braekhus, in 2019.

” I’m very happy where my career is. To only have seven fights and to have accomplished all I have is a big deal. I’ve beaten the best and will continue to do so. Hannah Gabriels was a very tough fight but I proved a lot in that fight.”

Shields is a pound-for-pound fighter as if you look at what she has done, only Vasyl Lomachenko and Naoya Inoue have equaled it in terms of accomplishment.

Shields will be returning after beating Hannah Rankin last month in Kansas, the quick turnaround gives her an opportunity to fight on the final HBO card as well as stay active.

Another thing of note is, Shields’ last two opponents are Alicia Napoleon’s last two opponents, but in a reverse order. A bout between the two could be brewing as well since they have comparable opposition.

Nonetheless, Shields is a great fighter who has accomplished a ton in boxing before her professional debut and continues to make history as a professional, I just hope that people give her, her just-do, before it is all said done. It’d be a shame if not since she is breaking down the door for a lot of future women boxers.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle