World Champion Boxer Claressa Shields Open to Fighting a Man

"I get into the ring with men all the time," she said.
97.1 The Ticket

(97.1 The Ticket) -- Claressa Shields, three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, is undefeated in her boxing career. She'll next put her perfect record on the line against Ivana Habazin at the Dort Federal Event Center Oct. 5 in her hometown of Flint.

And one day, Shields might square off with a man. 

In an interview with 97.1 The Ticket's podcast The Time That, Shields said she's open to the idea -- but only against the right opponent and only for the right price. 

"I think if it was to ever happen, maybe it could, it would have to be the right man, right size," Shields said. "When you talk about a 160-pound man versus a 160-pound woman, the man probably could be coming down from 200 pounds. I’m coming down from 180. So it really depends on the timing of it.

"But I know as I get stronger and bigger and get into my woman strength -- because I haven't really hit it yet -- that it will be possible and that I’ll win." 

Shields, 24, is 9-0 in her career. As her reputation grows, so does her value in the ring. Her upcoming fight against Habazin is for $300,000. And for Shields to step into the ring with a man, an event that would likely draw huge viewership, it would take significantly more than that. 

"I’m not getting in the ring with a man for less than $2 million," she said. "It definitely has to make sense (for me). But I’m not scared of it happening, because I get into the ring with men all the time. It’s just more of, if you want to see history, you gotta pay for history." 

When she trains for her fights, Shields frequently spars with men. One of her former sparring partners is Matt Korobov, who nearly claimed the middleweight world title last year and who touts a career record of 28-3. 

"We’ll get in the ring and spar and he doesn’t take it easy on me, and he’s in the ring fighting for a world title. But this is what I need to help me get ready for a fight," said Shields. "I can’t even spar against women because I have to take some heat off my punches and slow it down. There’s been women who I have sparred with and after, my coach was like, ‘I don’t know how she’s still your friend.'" 

Before Shields fights a man, if it ever happens, there's a fellow female fighter she has her eye on. Not a boxer, but a dominant force in mixed martial arts: Amanda Nunes of the UFC. Shields recently floated the idea on Twitter, and UFC president Dana White subsequently said he's not opposed to it. 

In the ring, Shields believes she'd handle Nunez like Floyd Mayweather handled Conor McGregor in 2017. 

"It’d probably be worse than that," he said.

And she feels she'd have a strong chance in the Octagon, too. 

"Absolutely. If I train, If I get ready," she said. "The thing is, people don’t look at the size advantage that I have over her, and then also just my boxing experience. She’s really good with her hands, but I can learn her sport. She can’t learn boxing. She can learn it, but my years of experience, she’ll never be able to say, 'Oh, I learned enough in boxing to compete with Claressa in the ring.

"I can learn how to wrestle, I can learn how to kick to even go in there and have a good chance against her. And then with my size advantage, that’ll really make it something." 

Shields checks in at about 5'9, 160 lbs. Nunes, 31, is about 5'8, 140 lbs. 

So, will it happen?

"I don’t know," Shields said. "(White) didn’t say that he was against her coming inside the ring, I don’t think. I think he said it has some potential. But I think after what happened with Floyd and Connor, he's kind of like, if it was to happen, if she was to come to boxing, I would definitely have to come over to their side." 

Make no mistake about this. Shields vs. Nunes would be a headliner. 

"Now we’re in a time where promoters do believe in women fighters, do believe we can sell tickets, and I’m one of the women that people believe in and that Showtime believes in. With that, I feel like the fight could do great," said Shields. "I feel like she can get a million, I can get a million. It’s a big fight. We can do pay-per-view. I feel like my fans and her fans would definitely tune in.

"It’s definitely something, so we’ll see what happens." 

Whoever comes her way in the future, though, Shields is currently focused on Habazin. Their fight, which will be broadcast on Showtime, is for the vacant WBO junior middleweight championship, and Shields couldn't be more excited to be staging it in Flint. 

"I could have had this three-time division fight anywhere. The fact that I’m having it at home to make history, this is so great to me," she said. "I feel like Flint definitely needs it. Flint is always behind me. They’ve driven to Jersey, they’ve come to LA, to Kansas City, to New York. Now they don’t have to go anywhere but come to the Dort Federal. Everybody knows where it’s at. It’s down the street from people’s house. All the kids are going to be there, all the fans.

"I’m just super excited because I just can’t wait to make everybody happy. After everything we’re going through right now in Flint, to know that, even though we come from Flint and they say, 'Oh, the water is dirty and people don’t make it' and all this crazy stuff, you get to have your three-division World Champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist come back home and actually fight, letting you now that I still love the city of Flint, I love the people of Flint and I’m going to kick ass on October 5 in Flint front of everybody."