Claressa Shields Fight of the Year contender highlights banner year for women’s boxing

Claressa Shields knocks out Savannah Marshall in their fight for the undisputed middleweight title on Saturday in London. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

In the Chinese calendar, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. In boxing, it is the Year of the Woman.

Female boxers broke through the glass ceiling in a big way in 2022, and they’re showing men how the sport should be run. Claressa Shields won an undisputed championship in a staggering third different weight class on Saturday, scoring a unanimous decision over Savannah Marshall at London’s O2 Arena to become a four-belt champion at middleweight.

Shields’ win over Marshall was a Fight of the Year contender that came in the main event, with both fighters keeping pace from start to finish. Shields left with the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO belts as well as the lavish WBC belt he created to honor the late Queen Elizabeth II.

It followed an outstanding super featherweight fight for the IBF, WBC and WBO titles which Alycia Baumgardner won in a great fight against the previously undefeated Mikaela Mayer.

It was a women’s only card that was the first in the UK, boxing mad, and it sold out the O2 Arena and got tremendous media coverage.

And Saturday’s show followed the success of the undisputed women’s lightweight title fight in April that Katie Taylor won against Amanda Serrano in a Madison Square Garden in New York.

Led by Shields, the best women in the world are actively seeking each other out and arranging major fights. The level of talent among female boxers has never been higher and with fighters like Shields, Marshall, Baumgardner, Mayer, Taylor, Serrano, Seniesa Estrada and Jessica McCaskill among others, it will only attract more talent. in the sport.

Good things are ahead for women’s boxing, and it’s time for boxing promoters and television networks to start investing more of their budgets on women.

Shields has been a star almost since the day she turned pro in 2016 after winning gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in London and then repeating at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But she wasn’t universally loved or accepted by fans. She is extraordinarily confident and not afraid to say it. When you call yourself the “GWOAT” early on in his career like Shields did, you’re going to end up with not only a target on your back, but a part of the fan base rooting against you. .

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Claressa Shields (L) and Savannah Marshall (R) pose after their undisputed middleweight championship bout at The 02 Arena on October 15, 2022 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall gave the sold-out 02 Arena crowd an entertaining battle. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

She’s not a power hitter – Saturday’s hard-fought win over Marshall took her record to 13-0 with just two knockouts – but she knows how to fight and she’s got all the punches in her arsenal. She doesn’t get punched often, but proved against the mighty Marshall that she has a formidable chin.

However, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the upper weights who seems capable of challenging Shields unless Marshall is able to fix a few issues and pull through.

But look at Shields’ file and it’s remarkable what she did. She made her debut on November 19, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against fellow female debutant Franchon Crews-Dezurn. Shields won it by shutout, but Crews-Dezurn is now the undisputed super middleweight champion.

She fought Hanna Gabriels, who now holds the WBC women’s heavyweight title. Marie-Eve Dicare, another victim of Shields, holds the IBF super-welterweight belt. She had also beaten Hannah Rankin, who lost her WBA super welterweight title last month.

It sets a standard that may not be touched for decades. And at 27, she has years ahead of her.

On top of that, she tries to compete at a high level in mixed martial arts. She’s not a great MMA fighter yet, not by a long shot. But just the fact that she’s in a big promotion and trying to fight top MMA fighters says a lot about her character and her eagerness to prove she’s the best.

Women’s game shines as men bicker

We are blessed with so many great female fighters, and the divisions will only deepen as the influx of talent continues. And even if it’s like hearing someone scratch their nails on a blackboard for eight hours straight to find out if Terence Crawford will fight Errol Spence or if Gervonta Davis will fight Ryan Garcia, women are signing up for fights. unification and call the best of their divisions. regularly.

Boxing is a business and you have to take care of it. But there’s way too much talk in men’s boxing about who sells the most tickets, who sells the most pay-per-views and who, overall, is the most popular. It’s sickening to hear and it’s also an excuse to skip fights that the public wants to see.

There are a lot of great things happening in men’s boxing. The talent level is very high and there are plenty of charismatic fighters with great stories across the sport. But the fact that it’s so hard to get the biggest fights makes it hard to be a fan.

There are no such problems in women’s football. Mayer and Baumgardner quickly agreed to fight and have spent most of the past two months promoting the show. And in the ring, when asked about a rematch, Baumgardner said no because she wanted to try to become undisputed champion.

When Shields was asked if she would give Marshall a rematch, she replied that her peers on the men’s side should write on a slip and step aside to use it after their fight. Shields said if fans wanted to see it, she was up for a rematch.

That’s how it should be and that’s why 2022 is clearly the year of the woman in boxing.

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