Put Some Respect On Her Name: Claressa Shields Becomes Boxing's 1st Ever Two-Division, Undisputed World Champ (And That Includes Men, Too)

Illustration for article titled Put Some Respect On Her Name: Claressa Shields Becomes Boxing's 1st Ever Two-Division, Undisputed World Champ (And That Includes Men, Too)
Photo: Carlos Osorio, G/O Media (AP)

Throughout the course of her illustrious boxing career, Claressa Shields has made it a point to call herself “The G.W.O.A.T.”—an abbreviation for The Greatest Woman of All Time. And after beating the breaks off of Marie-Eve Dicaire on Saturday night, who the hell is brave enough to tell her otherwise?

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Before T-Rex laid holy hands on her, Dicaire was best known as an undefeated IBF Super Welterweight Champion. But after their bout on Saturday, in which it took Shields all of about 30 seconds to figure out her opponent, Dicaire is now best known for trying her damndest to survive their skirmish than actually attempting to win the damn fight.

“She never really wanted to win the fight,” Shields told reporters after the bout. “She just wanted to be able to say she went all 10, which I don’t have that kind of mentality. To me, that’s weak, and I’d rather go down on my shield any day and give it a good fight.”

She continued, “But she wanted to stay away. She wanted to hold. She wanted to elbow and do all that crazy stuff. I felt like I was winning the fight, but I didn’t get to display what I wanted to display.”

While Shields sadly didn’t get to separate DiCaire’s head from her shoulders—I know, I wanted to see it, too—per ESPN, she did emerge victorious. Her triumph, which came via unanimous decision, makes her the first boxer in the four-belt era to be an undisputed champ in two divisions. (Yes, that includes men, too.) So not only did she claim Dicaire’s IBF crown and the vacant WBA world title, but she retained her WBO and WBC junior middleweight titles.

And the fight wasn’t even close.

From ESPN:

All three judges scored the fight 100-90, a clean sweep for the fighter who calls herself the greatest of all time. Shields landed 116 of 409 punches, and Dicaire landed 31 of 263. Shields landed double-digit punches in seven of the 10 rounds.

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She also leveraged her popularity into headlined an all-women’s pay-per-view card on Saturday—the first in nearly 20 years—in order to draw much-needed attention to gender inequity within the sport.

“For a woman to be an athlete, we have to work a bit harder. Especially to be a top athlete. [...] We have to continue to fight,” she recently told The Root. “Women are never gonna just stop doing sports, they can’t make us disappear. As soon as people realize that, they’ll give us our just due and we’ll be able to flourish better and they’ll stop holding women in sports back.”

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So again, who’s willing to risk life and limb to tell her she isn’t the G.W.O.A.T?

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Aside from increased awareness, the Flint, Mich., native is a vocal proponent of female athletes receiving more equitable pay. And as The Boxing Scene points out, while the 25-year-old can command more than just about any other female boxer on Earth, she puts numbers on the board, too:

For argument’s sake, Shields hit 410,000 viewers while fighting on Showtime for her bout against Hanna Gabiels. Her most recent contest on the network peaked at 288,000, the same number Adrien Broner averaged a few weeks back on the same channel against Jovanie Santiago. Or, over on Showtime’s boxing competitor ESPN, Mikaela Mayer-Helen Joseph peaked at 380,000, which was a 3% increase from a heavyweight contest the week prior involving Carlos Takam, who had fought for a heavyweight title.

As for the money: Shields earned a guarantee of $300,000 against Habazin, while Broner claimed to have made more than a million against Santiago.

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And even though she’s already dominating her competition, she’s still hell-bent on improving her craft.

“I don’t know how to jump up & down about something I already knew would happen. 90-100,” she tweeted after her latest win. “Back to the drawing board though. I gotta figure out how to make my skills work with these 2 minute rds to get KOs against top opponents! Matter of fact. My next boxing match will be 3 minutes.”

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Yes, you read that correctly: She wants more time on the clock so that she can run up more knockouts.

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Congrats to T-Rex for continuing to rewrite the history books and creating a more equitable sport along the way.

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Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.

DISCUSSION

suzzi
Suzzi

So happy for Claressa. I remember when she won the first gold medal ever by a woman for U.S. in boxing in the 2012 Olympics she got no media attention. All of the attention went to the gymnastics team. I hope now she will get the media love she deserves.