Claressa Shields had plenty of reasons to switch from boxing to mixed martial arts with her first professional fight now in a few days.
Despite being a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a multiple-time, multi-division champion in the sport of her choice, boxing, the 26-year-old Michigan native still hasn’t received the kind of attention. , money or appreciation that should come. with this kind of achievements.
Shields has targeted boxing promoters and their broadcast partners in the past for what she believes to be nothing more than sexism when it comes to not giving female boxers roughly the same kind of opportunities. than their male counterparts.
This is certainly not the case in MMA where many of the biggest stars are women, including former UFC champions like Ronda Rousey as well as current title holders such as Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg or Valentina. Shevchenko. While the best promotions like the UFC have been slower to welcome women into the fold, there is now no doubt that they stand side by side with men when it comes to pay and prestige in the world. sport.
Even though Shields didn’t even make her first appearance in the PFL cage, she has already seen her profile rise exponentially compared to her biggest boxing fights.
“In women’s boxing, women don’t get paid that much,” Shields explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I won every title you can think of, every last organization. Triple division world champion, undisputed double champion at 154 and 160 years old [pounds]. I held stocks at 168 and it’s like I’m not a millionaire. I am known the world over but am not yet a household name.
“There is nothing more I can do in women’s boxing to make me a household name because I’ve done it all. I can’t do anything else. People were talking about me and Laila Ali fighting or coming out of retirement. I still wouldn’t be a household name after this win. “
Taking matters into their own hands earlier this year, Shields decided to promote her own all-female pay-per-view when she won a victory over Marie-Eve Dicaire.
While she still fully intends to move forward with her boxing career, Shields knows that in order to create better opportunities for herself in the future, she has to start taking care of herself.
Right now that means moving to MMA where organizations like the PFL put a lot of promotional force behind women.
“It’s not [making me a household name] that’s why I do MMA, ”Shields said of boxing. “Because for me, that’s the big picture.
“I want to be a household name. I want to be a millionaire. I want to get my fair due and I’ve never been able to get my fair due in boxing, so I’m going to use my athleticism to see what I can do in MMA.
In addition to these goals, Shields has never shied away from expressing her long-term desire to be considered the greatest female fighter of all time in all combat sports.
With a perfect 11-0 record and two armfuls of title belts, Shields has already proven her boxing credentials and she is now looking to do the same with her new MMA career.
That’s why she made it clear that fighting in MMA isn’t just about proving she can do it or getting a win under her belt and then coming back to boxing for good.
For Shields, who makes his PFL debut against Brittney Elkin on June 10, it’s part of a grand design to cement his legacy for now and forever.
“I just feel like myself, when you’re a champion people look at your accomplishments and say ‘what else can you do?’ and me being the greatest woman of all time, I’m the greatest of all time in boxing hands down but I feel like if I add MMA to it, who could argue with it? Shields said. “No one can dispute that. Any girl in boxing or any girl in MMA, she won’t be able to say “no, this is not GWOAT”.
“I am the GWOAT in boxing and I will be the GWOAT in MMA if I get the chance to fight in the PFL and become a PFL MMA champion at the same time as I box. Like who can deny that I’m the greatest woman of all time? I have beaten all the girls in boxing and now I have beaten the girls in MMA. I feel like it adds to me being the GWOAT. “