NEW YORK – Claressa Shields was in Manhattan on Tuesday to promote her next championship boxing match.
Shields’ 10-round, 154-pound title fight Friday night versus Ivana Habazin will afford Shields an opportunity to become the quickest boxer, male or female, to win world titles in three weight classes. Toward the end of their press conference, however, Shields disclosed that she plans to make her mixed martial arts debut by the conclusion of 2020.
“I will be having my first MMA match at the end of the year,” Shields said. “So, I got a lot of stuff that I got going on. I can do it all. I’m 24. I’m young, I’m hungry and I’ll fight whoever, whenever. I can’t wait to throw some elbows in MMA. It’s gonna be fun.”
Women’s boxing’s undisputed middleweight champion also addressed her desire to fight UFC star Amanda Nunes in a boxing match.
“For Amanda Nunes, yeah, come. Come,” Shields said. “She said she would fight me if they offer her a million dollars. Offer her $2 million. Just get her in the ring. Get her in the ring, just so they know I’m the baddest when it comes to throwing hands. Nobody can beat me in that.”
Finding an acceptable weight for both Shields and Nunes could prevent their intriguing fight from happening.
Brazil’s Nunes is the only woman who’s won UFC championships in two divisions, but she hasn’t competed above MMA’s featherweight limit of 145 pounds. Shields will compete at a career-low limit of 154 pounds when she boxes Habazin in a fight for the vacant WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Nevertheless, Dmitriy Salita, Shields’ promoter, remains hopeful that they’ll be able to put together a boxing match between Shields and Nunes.
“It would have to happen in boxing because there’s no part of boxing which is [mixed martial arts],” Salita told BoxingScene.com following the press conference. “There’s a big part of [MMA] that’s striking. And Amanda Nunes is the best striker. Her strength is striking. She’s a power puncher. That’s why she’s kind of like [Conor] McGregor, although all things being equal, I think she’s a better striker than McGregor was going into the Mayweather fight. Whether this fight will happen, from us it’s yes.
“It’s up to the UFC and Dana White if they can make a deal with Amanda and obviously pay her what she needs. We work very closely with Showtime and obviously there’s many things to be discussed, but this is something that we want to happen. … This would probably be the biggest women’s sporting event of all time.”
Showtime will showcase Shields (9-0, 2 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Flint, Michigan, and Croatia’s Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs) in the main event of a three-fight telecast set to begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
In the co-feature, undefeated Philadelphia welterweight Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22 KOs) and Kazahkstan’s Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1, 12 KOs) are scheduled to square off in a 10-rounder. The tripleheader will open with Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa (12-1, 7 KOs), of Lindenhurst, New York, and Elin Cederroos (7-0, 4 KOs), of Vasteraas, Sweden, in a 10-round fight for the Napoleon-Espinosa’s WBA super middleweight title and the vacant IBF 168-pound crown.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.