Is Claressa Shields the Standard Bearer of Boxing, Men or Women?
In her hometown of Flint, Michigan, Claressa Shields (11-0, 2 KOs) defeated Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-1, 0 KOs) to become the women’s undisputed world junior middleweight champion. Shields is now the first boxer, male or female, to become undisputed world champion in two separate divisions. Fully realizing her achievements, she was ebullient during the post-fight interview. For the self-described GWOAT of boxing, she is on a pedestal of her own. Talking to Dan Canobbio following the win over Dicaire, she said no current boxer is doing what she is doing.
It is her belief that with every victory, she is making history. The 25-year-old feels no current fighter in the game has accomplished more.
“Shit, Flint, Michigan got the baddest boxer in the world! I’m two-time undisputed. Pacquiao Who? Canelo Who? It’s Claressa Shields!
Listen, two-time undisputed. When somebody else do it, let me know. It ain’t been done, it’s just me.”
DOES SHE HAVE A POINT?
From a hyper-technical standpoint, Shields is spot-on in her assessment. Among the sport’s current crop of fighters, she is correct. She has captured all the world belts at both 160 and 154 pounds, doing so within two years. At the expense of sticking a needle in the balloon, here is the thing. The reality is that women’s boxing operates on a different dynamic.
In total truth, the competition level in women’s boxing is not as deep. Additionally, the sanctioning bodies seem to not be obstructionist when it comes to women wanting to unify. In short, Shields’s path to undisputed has been easier than her male counterparts. Her road to the top has been not as bumpy, the struggle has not been as tough.
IS SHE TRULY THE GWOAT?
Furthermore, hardcore observers will push back with this question. Is Claressa Shields even the best women’s boxer in the world? There are boxing pundits who would rate women’s undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor (17-0, 6 KOs) above Shields.
Taylor has a win over former unified 140-pound and current undisputed women’s 147-pound world champion Jessica McCaskill. She also has two defeats over former long-reigning women’s junior lightweight champion Delfine Persoon. At the risk of hurting feelings, no one on Shields’ record compares to the likes of McCaskill and Persoon. Shields has become an undisputed champ in two divisions while Taylor has done so in one. On balance, Taylor has overall fought the tougher competition.
Is Claressa Shields highly accomplished and a history-maker? Absolutely. Should she be lauded for her achievements? You better believe it. Does she stand alone on boxing’s pantheon? It is still very much up for debate.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.