The Long Lay-off & Weight Jump May Hurt Claressa Shields In July

Will A Return At Light Heavyweight Be Too Much For Shields?

Claressa returns from MMA to fight Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse at light heavyweight
Claressa Shields to returns at light heavyweight in July against Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse (credit: PFL, EOTTM)

Claressa Shields May Battle Ring Rust In Light Heavyweight Bout

In a recent social media post, undisputed middleweight champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (14-0, 2 KO’s) has announced that she is returning to the ring this July 27. In that contest, Shields will leap up to light heavyweight to face WBC heavyweight champion Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse (7-1, 2 KO’s). In this interesting duel, staged in Shields’ near backyard of Detroit, Michigan, the vacant WBO and interim WBA light heavyweight titles will be on the line.


While it’s admirable that Shields is jumping up notably in weight, one has to ask: will this elevation be a bit too much for T-Rex? It would also be prudent to bear in mind that, following her June 3, 2023 duel with Maricela Cornejo, Shields has been out of action for more than a year. Going a step further, that prizefight with Cornejo represents her only boxing match in roughly the past two years.

A great deal of this boxing inactivity is due to Shields, once again, venturing away from the squared-circle to pursue combat endeavors in the MMA cage. This will also leave some wondering if this time away will have a negative effect on her in-ring skills.


To her credit, the two-time Olympic gold medalist will have the far better resume and credentials. In fact, when reviewing Lepage-Joanisse’s ledger of opponents, only two of the seven had more than five fights. Furthermore, of those two, she earned a split decision over one and was knocked out in the third round by the second.

Given this vast gap in past opposition, it’s fair to reason that Shields should be able to navigate her way around on fight night without much complication. Yet, one can never assume that her significant time away from the ring, the jump in weight and programming muscle memory from another discipline will not color this duel in a very meaningful way. So, come July 27, it will be revealing to see how the action plays out in the ring!

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Bakari is a Senior Writer for Visit to view more of his literary work.