Claressa Shields and Her Hunger for Greatness
Shields, and her willingness to challenge all comers, should be looked at as a gift to not only boxing fans, but fans of combat sports in general.
Over the weekend an undisputed boxing match took place, between the best of the middleweight division in women's boxing. Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer. The night ended with the American fighter taking home the belt and title of undisputed. She became the second woman in the sport earning the honor of being called the undisputed champ.
After the fight Shields called out Cecila Braekus the first undisputed champion and Savannah Marshall the only fighter to defeat her in the amateurs. In under a decade she has won back to back gold medals and became undisputed champion in her debuting division. She's calling herself the GWOAT (the greatest woman of all time). The crazy thing about it is it's still so early in her career, and she might already be right! I'm not typing this to argue if she is or isn't though. I'm typing this because of her will and want to prove it. In a sport full of politics and diva attitudes, some deserved, and some in my opinion, full of delusion. It's refreshing to see a fighter like Shields willing and wanting to take on all comers.
Point blank, you can't label yourself the greatest of all time, then have a laundry list of demands for certain opponents. Look to Rousey VS Cyborg, when it was an anticipated fight, new demands for Cyborg kept popping up after previous demands were agreed to. Similar to the heavyweight fight in boxing with Wilder VS Joshua. Hammer VS Shields only road blocks seemed to be injuries. No new demands from Shields or Hammer popped up down the road. Both fighters thought they could beat each other. So both had a "put up or shut up" attitude about it. Events like these should be appreciated. I felt like I was watching history, and a future all time great in the making. To me Shields celebrating her win against Hammer also had shades of Ali. I shook up the world post fight interview after Liston. Ali told the world he was the greatest. The world wasn't ready to believe him. Shields was telling the world shes the GWOAT. People are already saying "no." Both became champions in their early 20s. Making similar statements in what we'll call "chapter one" in their pro career.
GOAT and GWOAT
At this point Shields is clearly the "A Side" for any fight she pursues in her career later on down the road. She's welcoming all comers to challenge her, as if she isn't the A Side, like she still has something to prove. As I touched on in the earlier paragraphs. Her attitude in proving she's the best, with no road blocks or huge demands should be something appreciated, if you're a fan of boxing.
Fighters like this are rare in the sport today. It's why I don't understand why some fans of the sport were quick to throw words out like over-rated, hype job. or even say things like Ali and Wolfe would beat her. First, any fighter who dedicates enough time out of their lives to win two gold medals and unite a whole weight class of titles in the pros in under a decade is far from an over-rated hype job. The common human being isn't incapable of understanding the level of dedication and focus it takes to accomplish that. Second, any time a critic has to pull an athlete from another era to make a point that the current face of the sport would lose to that all time great, are sure signs to the current athletes greatness. They are competing with time at this point. They're given an unbeatable, impossible task. Shields can't go back in time to fight a prime Ali or Wolfe. Lebron can't go back in time to play a prime Jordan. Floyd can't go back in time to fight a young Ray Leonard. So just throw that argument out the window. Unless we're talking a fantasy fight topic.
Bottom line, what Shields is doing with her career is everything right. She possesses a rare attitude modern day fighters don't have. Super fights with her don't have the overdrawn build up other fights are having. She wants all the smoke now. We, as fans of the sport, need to appreciate her while she is here. There's still enough time to stop the criticism and just enjoy the ride. I feel, with Claressa Shields, the best moments of here career is yet to come.
Shields VS Marshall in the pros, to this day Savannah Marshall is the only fighter who has given Claressa a loss on her record. In boxing a common belief is the pros are always different from the amateurs. Both fighters have yet to taste defeat in the pros. Both have improved since becoming pro. Plus, with Mayweather behind Marshall a fight like this would have serious promotional backing. Shields avenging her only loss would be great. Marshall upsetting the GWOAT and potentially creating a new rivalry would be great as well! I personally believe the bigger Marshall is a tougher challenge than the smaller Cecilia. Its not only the size advantage, but the experience in fighting each other. Whatever ends up being next, i'll be tuning in for sure!