Most Decorated Women’s Boxer Ever, Claressa Sheilds Makes MMA Debut Tomorrow on ESPN2
When: June 10th, Thursday, ESPN2, 7 PM PST
Claressa Shields already has a heck of a resume.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist, Shields became a unified world champion in four fights by stopping undefeated world champion Nikki Adler, winning the WBC super middleweight world title and IBF super middleweight world title. Shields would then headline Showtime Championship Boxing, and become the undisputed middleweight world champion dominating Christina Hammer in only nine fights. Then duplicated the undisputed feat again this year, at a new weight class as well.
That being said, I would guess most of the sports watching public might know who she is, but couldn’t tell you why she is great.
Then we have the out of the ring stuff.
The weigh-in attack that got as many headlines as her fights, and for all the advocacy Shields has done, for women’s boxing and amateur boxers, it has been polarizing moments that have defined her outside the ring, despite everything she has accomplished in the ring, that seems to plague and define her.
In March of this year, Shields became the undisputed four belt champion in her second weight class 154 lbs, yet rather than being on major platforms, the fight ended up on Fite.TV, and didn’t gather the luster of the achievement itself, in my opinion.
Recently, Shields resigned with her boxing promoter, Salita Promotions, and as of tomorrow, will be mixing her time between boxing and MMA as Shields will be debuting on the PFL, Professional Fighters League, an emerging MMA company, that is bringing innovative new features to the sport such as new stats (leg reach), and loads of stats throughout the telecast.
The company has decorated MMA star Rory MacDonald, Anthony Pettis, Clay Collard, and MMA star on the rise Kayla Harrison, along with Shields, who takes precedent amongst the biggest names in the company.
What MMA has offered women’s fighting is dignity and respect. Boxing hasn’t figured out how to market, package, and sell women’s fights, yet – at a massive level, but women’s MMA with no small help from pioneer Ronda Rousey, is and seems to always being growing and well-supported. Shields, who for MMA is training with Jackson/Winkeljohn’s camp in New Mexico, a super camp best known for MMA stars such as Jon Jones and Holly Holm, is following in the footsteps of women’s boxing champion Holly Holm, who became a legend in MMA, after a stellar boxing career.
Shields now will make her debut tomorrow, on ESPN2, at 7 PM PST, with phrases such as “Don’t Miss Greatness”, and “The Greatest Woman Of All-Time” used in advertisements for the fight. Her opponent, Britnney Elkin, is 3-6 in MMA, with none of her wins coming by way of submission, which would be the greatest fear for anyone who is a Shields’ fan, as the wrestling and jiu-jitsu is what Shields is green at. Elkin has fought on two major fight cards, one Bellator card in which Amanda Bell stopped her in two rounds, and in the PFL in which Kayla Harrison submitted her in one round. That being said, Elkin is an MMA veteran, Shields, who is one of the best to ever do it in boxing is entering into new ground.
Let’s be honest though, the belief by many is, Shields will win this – and then we will do two things. 1) See how far she is away from a meaningful fight, and 2) how far is Shields from Kayla Harrison, who has two gold medals in Judo, in the same Olympics Shields won her medals. If Kayla Harrison stays with PFL, it isn’t an if, but rather a when will the two fight, and tomorrow will tell us just how long we will have to wait.
It is interesting that in Shields professional debut, she is facing a mutual opponent of Kayla Harrison.
For me, it is bittersweet, as Shields should get a lot more respect in boxing than she does, but the sport is backwards, idiots on Twitter get more praise, then people with achievements, gossip is more vital than analysis, so in the mediocre that is boxing media, and the boxing world – it is no wonder Shields had to leave a sport she gave so much to, to finally get due praise, and shine.
Shields fights in the cage for the first time, tomorrow on ESPN2, at 7 PM.