Claressa Shields, boxing’s self-proclaimed ‘GWOAT’ (that’s the greatest woman of all-time to me and you), can book her place in the history books on Friday night when she takes on Marie Eve Dicaire on an all-women pay-per-view card during a landmark night of boxing in Flint, Michigan.
Shields, 10-0 (2), will tonight bid to become the first boxer, man or woman, to unify the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO titles in two separate weight divisions in the four-belt era. Already the lineal champion at middleweight, Shields will attempt to add the vacant WBA “super” title, as well as Dicaire’s IBF strap to the WBC and WBO super-welterweight belts she won against Ivana Habazin in January 2020.
Despite all the success Shields has had in the ring, picking up two Olympic gold medals and compiling a 77-1 record as an amateur, and her nigh-on complete domination in the professional ranks between 154 and 168lbs, the 25-year-old is yet to truly break into the mainstream. In fact, tonight will be her first appearance on a PPV card.
The likes of Katie Taylor and Savannah Marshall, the only person to ever beat Shields, are enjoying huge rises in popularity as the women’s game continues to boom in Britain and Ireland but America’s Shields has struggled for the attention she so richly deserves.
It’s a peculiar conundrum. She is undoubtedly one of, if not the pound-for-pound star of women’s boxing and she isn’t afraid to cause controversy with her brash comments outside of the ring. Just this week, she boldly claimed that she could beat 98% of the men in the world inside the ring and said only Muhammad Ali is ahead of her in the all-time rankings.
“If I didn't say how great I am, no one in this room would have ever called me great because they don't recognise it. Only the greats know that they're great,” insisted Shields.
"Like Muhammad Ali. Nobody called him the greatest of all time. They actually called him the 'Louisville Lip' because he talked too much.
“If he had never said he was the greatest of all time, he would have never been considered the greatest. No matter what boxer comes along, nobody can get in front of Muhammad Ali. That's how I feel about myself.
"Muhammad Ali is first, and Claressa Shields is second. I am the greatest woman of all time, and 98 percent of men in the world can't beat me.”
Her first foray into the world of pay-per-view will be seen as part of a bigger plan to increase her overall star power and revenue in the long-term but with the boxer having often mooted a possible switch into the world of MMA for more lucrative fight offers, it might be a case of making the most of her while we can because she is undoubtedly a once-in-a-generation fighter.
Should Shields take her place among the boxing history books this weekend against the unbeaten Dicaire, one megafight that could be pulled off in 2021 would be against her amateur rival Marshall, whom she has already called out before.
"Savannah isn't a better fighter than me, and that's been proven,” she previously told Sky Sports.
"Savannah hasn't been challenged enough yet for her to even be saying my name.
"But if she wants to come see me? Then come see me. I'll shut her and her team up [Marshall is trained by Peter Fury] because they do too much talking for me!"