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Claressa Shields: The fact that I have to do my own pay-per-view shows boxing is sexist

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The future MMA fighter and current women’s boxing sensation lashes out against boxing’s power structure and sexism.

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Claressa Shields speaks during a press conference with Ivana Habazin at Hotel Plaza Athenee prior to their January 11th, 2020.
Claressa Shields speaks during a press conference with Ivana Habazin at Hotel Plaza Athenee prior to their January 11th, 2020.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

This Friday marks the return of Claressa Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) into the boxing ring. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed middleweight champion is moving down to 154 lbs for an undisputed championship unification with Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-0, 0 KOs) in Claressa’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Unlike her past several bouts, which have aired on Showtime, DAZN, and even the final HBO card, Shields will be headlining her own pay-per-view on Fite.tv as part of an all-women’s boxing showcase titled “Superwomen.” Shields has been vocal about sexism and substandard pay for women in boxing, and her interview with MMA Fighting was no different.

“This is what women’s boxing needs,” Shields said. “Men need to know that we’re not going to wait on them. I’m going to a place where no man has had to go. Like no man has had to go and fight his own pay-per-view card without any backing from the boxing networks. No man has had to do that. But the fact that I have to do it is showing that boxing is sexist.

“It’s also showing that I’m not afraid to go out here and make something for myself. I think that this will set a whole new wave for women’s boxing and other women are going to be fighting against the other best women and you’re going to have some super fights and there’s going to be women’s pay-per-views after this fight. This is just a great start.”

Shields did compete once in 2020 prior to the pandemic disrupting everything, but when boxing did resume there was no fight date for her when Showtime released its schedule. Showtime and Shields have had a close “working relationship” throughout her career, but after she was left in the dark, her team decided to take matters into their own hands by forming their own pay-per-view to highlight herself and women’s boxing as a whole.

“I always thought I should be pay-per-view,” Shields said. “I always thought that. Women’s boxing would flourish a lot more if we start now, and even if the numbers aren’t great, at least we’re starting to build our pay-per-view base.

“I always wanted to fight on pay-per-view or fight on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao or Errol Spence when they fought on pay-per-view. That was something I had said to Showtime and was just never given those opportunities.”

Shields actually did make her pro debut on the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev pay-per-view in 2016, but it was on the non-televised undercard and her subsequent fights have not been on any pay-per-view platform. It’s only fairly recently and definitely after the rise of women’s MMA that women’s boxing has garnered more attention. Katie Taylor has been a feature attraction for Matchroom Boxing, Amanda Serrano is headlining a Ring City USA card on NB Sports later this month, and Mikaela Mayer has been spotlighted on Top Rank on ESPN shows. There is obviously a wide pay discrepancy between top women’s boxers compared to top men, and even within the sport itself women’s boxing maxes out at 10 two-minute rounds as opposed to 12 three-minute rounds for men.

The big news of course as it pertains to Shields’ career is her impending move to MMA. She signed with PFL late last year with her debut expected for June. She intends to compete in both sports, which should be beneficial to her bank account as well as just staying active in 2021.

“This is great. I have a busy year,” Shields said. “I have the fight in March, my boxing match and then I have my MMA debut in June. Then I want to have another boxing match. I would love to get Savannah Marshall in the boxing ring this year. She’s been doing a whole lot of mouthing off and talking, saying I went to MMA to run away from her and all this stuff she’s been saying. Like girl, you only got one belt and I’ve got nine. Hush up. I want to shut her up.

“So hopefully we make that fight happen, maybe August or September and then have my last MMA fight to close out the year.”

The Shields vs. Dicaire “Superwomen” pay-per-view airs on March 5th at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on Fite.tv. Former boxing champ turned future UFC champ Holly Holm will serve as a co-commentator.