Boxer Claressa Shields, 24, recently sat down with EBONY correspondent and 2012 New York Golden Gloves Champion Michael Hughes at the Church Street Boxing Gym in New York City. The undefeated pugilist discussed how her male counterparts get paid more and her “greatest woman of all time” claims.
Shields has an 8-0 professional record with two knockouts. She also currently holds the IBF female super middleweight title, the IBF female middleweight title and the WBC female super middleweight title. As an amateur, she won gold in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, making her the first boxer in history with consecutive Olympic wins.
Despite her impressive record, Shields said things would be different if she were a man.
“If an American male boxer had two Olympic gold medals right now [and was] fighting for an undisputed title within nine fights, he would be a millionaire,” she said about the gender disparity with regard to her upcoming fight against Christina Hammer (24-0, 11 KOs).
“Me fighting against Christina Hammer is like when Canelo [Alvarez] decided to take on Floyd Mayweather,” Shields opined. “Mayweather had the experience, the belts and was the one who was the reigning champ. Canelo was new on the block and he decided, ‘I believe I’m great enough to take on Floyd Mayweather.’ That’s what’s going on right now [between Hammer and me], and [Alvarez] got paid a lot of money for that fight. It wasn’t an undisputed fight; it was just for the WBC.”
The undefeated fighter thinks other women in boxing need to start doing more than just speaking about the wage gap. For the Hammer matchup, Shields made a point of asking that it be the main event on a Saturday night card and that it get the same eight-week promotion that fights between males receive.
“The top girls like myself, Katie Taylor, Mikaela Mayer, Amanda Serrano, we have to make those small demands,” she said. “Showtime respects me, it’s just that they never had to do certain things for women’s fights and the fighters that came before me never voiced these things. They may have voiced, ‘Oh, we not getting equal pay,’ but they didn’t voice the small things that lead to equal pay, and equal promotion is one of those big things.”
She also clarified her proclamation of being the GWOAT: “When I say I’m the greatest woman of all time, it’s [means] all the women who are active on BoxRec cannot beat me.”
But Shields hasn’t shied away from questions about if she could beat Laila Ali, who retired in her prime with a 24-0 record.
“When you talk about Laila Ali, she was never undisputed,” she said. “I’m a five-time world champion within eight fights. It’s not because women’s boxing has gotten easier; it’s because I’ve [had] -crazy-ass challengers who [were] 17-0, 18-0 and 24-0. If people want me to prove that I’m the greatest woman of all time, cool; I’m not going to stop saying it because they don’t believe it.”
Shields said she will continue to call herself the GWOAT until someone beats her.
Showtime will air her undisputed women’s middleweight world championship fight against Hammer on April 13; coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.