Nine-time world champion Claressa Shields, who became boxing’s first-ever two-division champion in March, has been on an undefeated warpath throughout the course of her professional fighting career. And in her quest to satiate her desire for an even bigger challenge, in June, she courageously made the leap into mixed martial arts. As she explained to The Root, it was a decision she made in order to prove herself among the pantheon of all-time great athletes.
“My motivation is just to solidify that I’m the [Greatest Woman Of All Time] overall,” she said. “I’m just one of those boxers who don’t have fear. I’m not scared to try something new, I’m not scared of losing, and I’m not scared of not trying. [...] I have a lot of time to prove it because I have a three-year contract with the [Professional Fighter’s League] and I have a lot of time left in boxing also.”
Three months later, it would appear that the 26-year-old has finally met her match in the ring, as she suffered her first loss in her professional fighting career on Wednesday night.
In her second MMA bout, Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in boxing, was outpointed by Abigail Montes via split decision on Wednesday at Hard Rock Live. One judge scored the bout 29-28 for Shields, but the two other judges had it 29-28 for Montes.
The loss is the first for Shields (1-1 in MMA) as a professional fighter since 2012 when she dropped a decision to Savannah Marshall in an Olympic boxing qualifying tournament.
“I did better in there. I did pretty good on the cage,” Shields told ESPN shortly after her loss. “It was always the ground stuff. Gotta get better at defending the takedown and stuff. The game plan was to just do better than my last fight. Of course to win [also], but do better.
“It continues to show us what we need to work on, and I worked damn hard in camp. I knew I would look better. It was the last round that did it for me. She went for the god damn takedown and I didn’t respond quick enough.”
On Twitter, Shields’ supporters have done their best to drown out her detractors, who’ve waited almost five years for a professional loss to prey upon.
While it’s unfortunate that she’s suffered her first defeat, it’s just as important to note that she’s doing something that no other elite athlete is: stepping outside of a sport she’s dominant at in order to try her hand professionally at another.
Much respect to the G.W.O.A.T., and I fully expect her to bounce back from taking her first L in the ring.