If one wants to, they can sort of see Christy Martin as the John L. Sullivan of women’s boxing.
Martin wasn’t the first to make major magazine covers or capture attention but her rise in the mid-1990s is a critical fulcrum point in the evolution of women’s boxing. Unlike the single women who caught attention before, Martin waa the breakthrough star at a moment of growth. By 2012, women were competing at the Olympics and the ranks continue to grow in numbers and talent.
Does that mean 100 years from now fight fans might view fighters like Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor the way the significant fighters of the 20th century “Roaring Twenties” are viewed? This scribe won’t be around to see it barring some drastic upgrades in technology but it’s fun food for thought.
Take it into this Friday night (PPV, 9 PM EST) as the top two Jr. middleweights in the world battle to unify the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO belts. 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields has never lost a professional.
Neither has Marie Dicaire.
That’s probably about to change for one of them.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Current Titles: Lineal/Ring Magazine Middleweight (2019-Present); WBC/WBA Middleweight (2018-Present, 2 Defenses); WBC/WBO Super Welterweight (2020-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC/IBF Super Middleweight (2017-18, 1 Defense); IBF Middleweight (2018-20, 3 Defenses); WBO Middleweight (2019-20)
Weight: 153 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Flint, Michigan
Record: 10-0, 2 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (Ring, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 76-7-1 (.911)
Notable Outcomes, Ring Rated Foes: Franchon Crews-Dezurn UD4; Tori Nelson UD10; Hanna Gabriels UD10; Christina Hammer UD10
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Nikki Adler TKO5; Femke Hermans UD10; Ivana Habazin UD10
Title: IBF Light Middleweight (2018-Present, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 152 ½ lbs.
Hails from: St. Eustache, Quebec, Canda
Record: 17-0, 0 KO
Press Rankings: #2 (Ring, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0
Last Five Opponents: 110-19-3 (.845)
Notable Outcomes, Ring Rated Foes: Chris Namus UD10; Mikaela Lauren UD10
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Ogleidis Suarez UD10; Maria Lindberg UD10; Marisa Nunez MD10
The Pick: Dicaire has some style elements that could make Shields work in this one. The southpaw Dicaire likes to use the ring for lots of movement and can get off in some quick, awkward combinations. It will force Shields to play off the front foot and take away some of her countering ability. The problem for Dicaire is she often leaves herself wide open as she moves backward and can be caught pushing her left hand. While neither has much in the way of knockouts, it’s clear Shields has the heavier hands and should be the more physical force in the fight. Shields is stronger, has more offensive variety, and is more defensively responsible. While this might go the distance, it doesn’t have an upset feel to it. Shields solves the movement of Dicaire in the first half of the fight and punishes her from there to become the first boxer to unify to two-divisions in the four belt era. The pick is Shields by decision.
Rold Picks 2021: 7-1
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com