By Jake Donovan
Claressa Shields has endured plenty of criticism over her career-long “GWOAT” (Greatest Woman of All Time) claim as it relates to female boxers. The two-time Olympic Gold medalist and two-division champion in the pro ranks certainly looked the part in a tour-de-force performance over Christina Hammer this past Saturday in Atlantic City.
Even if you believe she still has a long way to go before ever solidifying such status, the unbeaten World middleweight queen doesn’t need you to agree. All she needs to do is continue to wake up every morning and feel that way about herself, as it’s remained the driving force for as long as she’s been a boxer.
“I fought in front of 30,000+ in both Olympics—and you talk about looking out at the crowd and seeing all these people either rooting for you or rooting against you,” Shields (9-0, 2KOs) recalls of the biggest moments of her boxing life, having won a Gold medal in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. “In your mind, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t care who rooting for me, or rooting against me—I’m here to kick some ass.’
“Just to have that kind of mindset to me, that’s where the Greatest Woman of all Time comes in.”
She first began insisting on it not too long after her second consecutive Gold medal, coming in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The repeat feat from her performance in 2012 London made Shields the first-ever American boxer to capture gold in consecutive Olympics games.
The same level of dominance has existed in her still young career, though one where she continues to carve out history. Shields captured her first major title in just her fourth pro fight, knocking out previously unbeaten Nikki Adler to win the super middleweight crown in Aug. ’17.
Just a single successful defense came of her reign—a 10-round win over Tori Nelson, also unbeaten at the time. Shields dropped down to middleweight, where she captured two titles in her very next fight. She would have to climb off the canvas to do so, recovering from an opening round knockdown to otherwise dominate Hanna Gabriels last June.
All three of the title fights aired live on Showtime, as did last weekend’s landslide win over Hammer—the fourth unbeaten fighter she’s defeated to date. Their bout was due to take place last November, only for Hammer (24-1, 11KOs) to come down sick and have to postpone the bout.
Shields remained active in the interim, scoring decisions wins over Hannah Rankin last November on DAZN and Femke Hermans just three weeks later in the last-ever boxing telecast on HBO. Once Hammer was given the all-clear for their rescheduled April 13 encounter, Showtime went all-in to promote the event.
Once the opening bell sounded, Shields went all-in to prove that not only was she the better of the two that night, but that she’s the best to ever do it.
“I follow boxing, I’ve looked at all these women through time and I don’t think there’s… a woman who can match me,” Shields insisted during the buildup to the fight. “Out of all the great women out there, I don’t think any could match me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox