Unified junior middleweight/middleweight champion Claressa Shields is still full steam ahead to a potential unification showdown with UK rival Savannah Marshall.
Last month, the two-time Olympic gold medal winner suffered a split decision loss in an MMA bout with Abigail Montes, which was featured on a PFL card. It was Shields’ second pro MMA fight.
It was the first defeat for Shields in any type of combat sports setting, since losing an amateur fight to Marshall in 2012.
Shields is still scheduled to make her UK debut on December 11, when she defends her WBC, WBA, IBF middleweight titles. Marshall will co-headline the card, in a defense of her WBO middleweight title.
Provided both women come away victorious, they will face each other in a full division unification in early 2022.
Promoter Ben Shalom of BOXXER, who will stage the December card and plans to match the two champions in 2022, does not see Shields’ recent setback as making any difference in what he has planned.
“[The MMA loss] is irrelevant. She was a victim of how good she is in boxing. She was never challenged. She’s a warrior so she tried out a new sport. It was great for Claressa and has grown her profile massively,” Shalom told Sky Sports. “She still has that air of invincibility in boxing. She will be looking forward to getting back in the ring where she belongs.”
“Every boxer needs a dance partner. You’ve seen that in history. It doesn’t matter how great you are. Women’s sport has taken its time to catch up to Claressa. Savannah’s emergence, and that she is the only person to have ever beaten her in the amateurs, is big for Claressa. She has been waiting for a challenge.
“That’s what makes this fight so amazing – Claressa needs it, Savannah needs it, the sport needs it, women’s sport needs it. There has never been a women’s fight that stands tall on its own two feet and grabs the attention of all sports fans. This has the potential to.”