Claressa Shields Fighting On Home Soil For Upcoming Bout
by Jim Caple
Claressa Shields works out during a pre fight media workout on Oct. 2, 2019 in Detroit.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields — the only American woman or man to ever win consecutive boxing titles in the Olympic Games — is going to do something she’s never done before.
In her upcoming bout against Marie-Eve Dicaire on March 5 at 9 p.m. at the Dort Financial Center in Flint, Michigan, she’ll be fighting in her hometown. It’s the first time she will fight as a professional in Flint.
“Flint is like everywhere I started fighting,” she said. “I’ll be in a Flint photo and fighting for the city championship at the end. It’s great and I’m super excited about all of it. I’m banking on (winning). …
“I think it brings a lot more power, a lot more experience. I really think that I’m not just into only boxing. I’m a lot stronger at places where I really had strength at before. So I’m really excited about March 5th and bringing some of that to the table.”
Shields’ father Bo, a former boxer himself, got her into the sport when she was growing up in Flint.
“I really started boxing for my dad so that he can live his life through me,” she said. “And I didn’t know that boxing was destined for what I would do. I just did it because I wanted to make my dad happy.”
Boxing was not Shields’ only sport. And it’s not the only sport she follows today, citing Olympic gold medalists Lisa Leslie and Serena Williams as among her favorite athletes.
“I did all types of sports. I’m really like a super athlete,” she said. “I was in track and I ran cross-country. I played basketball, I played volleyball and played softball. I’m always been very active in sports and doing things that involve sports.”
Shields went on to a decorated amateur boxing career, winning her first Olympic gold medal at 17 in 2012. Following the successful defense of her middleweight gold medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, she turned professional. In addition to her two Olympic gold medals she has won nine world championship belts in the sport. Shields, 25, is the defending WBC and WBO light middleweight champion. In her fight with Dicaire, she’ll put those belts on the line.
“I’m excited to be fighting another undefeated champion and to have the opportunity to make history by becoming the first fighter — male or female — to be undisputed champion in two weight divisions in the four-belt era,” she said.
“I’m happy to finally be back in the ring and face Claressa Shields,” said Dicaire, 34, a native of Quebec. “I have a lot of respect for everything Shields has accomplished. … We are going to have a lot of fun on March 5 measuring our skills, without restraints, and putting on a grandiose and memorable show. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
This week’s bout, the main event of an all-female card, takes place the weekend before International Women’s Day on March 8, “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.” The Shields-Decaire match has been dubbed “SUPERWOMEN” and organizers hope to call out gender bias and inequity while celebrating women’s achievements. Those issues are of particular importance to Shields in her career.
“I have been very vocal about (women’s sports) but after being vocal now you have to take action. And right here is taking action,” Shields said. “Not being given chances by networks that don’t want to pay us what we want or need to be paid. … This is where it all starts. And to me this is taking a stand for equal pay and equal fight time.”
Since turning pro, Shields won’t have the chance to go for a third gold medal in the 2020 Games this summer in Tokyo. this summer. But Shields isn’t only focusing on boxing — she also will be competing in mixed martial arts this June.
“I’m still doing both but that was a plan at the beginning,” she said. “I never said that I was retiring from boxing. I’m not going to retire from boxing no time soon and MMA is my new career too but I still will do both of them.”
Jim Caple is a former longtime writer for ESPN and the St. Paul Pioneer Press based in Seattle. He has covered sports on six continents, including 12 Olympics and 20 World Series. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.