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Claressa Shields: I moved to MMA because boxing can’t make me a millionaire and a household name

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Undefeated boxer turned PFL fighter Claressa Shields has big aspirations for herself as she prepares for her MMA debut.

For debuting PFL fighter Claressa Shields, there are bigger opportunities in MMA than in boxing.
For debuting PFL fighter Claressa Shields, there are bigger opportunities in MMA than in boxing.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Debuting PFL fighter Claressa Shields has been vocal about what she feels are boxing’s shortcomings. The 26-year-old undefeated boxer particularly pointed out how the sport in her view can be sexist and unfair to her fellow female fighters.

Shields reiterated these sentiments in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. She says no high-profile boxing bout will give her the same level of recognition that the likes Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Amanda Nunes enjoy.

“I’ve won every title you can think of, every last organization,” she said. “Three-time division world champ, two-time undisputed champ at 154 and 160 [pounds]. I’ve held titles at 168 and it’s like I’m not a millionaire. I’m known worldwide but I’m not a household name yet.

“There’s nothing more I can do in women’s boxing to make me be a household name cause I’ve done everything. Nothing else I can do. People were talking about me and Laila Ali fighting or her coming out of retirement. I still wouldn’t be a household name after that win.”

Now that she’s about to enter another facet of prizefighting, Shields has big aspirations for herself, both in terms of building up her brand and ultimately, her bank account.

“That’s why I’m doing MMA because, for me, it’s the bigger picture,” she explained. “I want to be a household name. I want to be a millionaire. I want to get my just due and I was never able to get my just due in boxing so I’m going to use my athleticism to see what I can do in MMA.”

Shields will make her PFL debut on June 10 against Brittney Elkin.