Claressa Shields isn’t feeling the Jake Paul hype train. She thinks that she can defeat the social media sensation-turned-boxer at her current weight class now.
“I can beat up Jake Paul at the weight class I’m at right now,” Shields said at a press conference for her next MMA fight for the Professional Fighters League on Oct. 27.
The event will take place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Not A Jake Paul Fan
Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is the most decorated current women’s boxer. In June, she expanded her athletic repertoire and had her first professional mixed martial arts fight with the PFL.
However, during the press conference for her second MMA event, Shields kept it real about Jake Paul and her stance about boxing on his undercard.
“Don’t ever disrespect me,” Shields said. “I would never fight on the undercard of a Jake Paul [card]. I’m a three-time division world champion, two-time Olympian in boxing. I would never fight on the undercard of Jake Paul.”
Paul continued his rapid ascent within the sport on Aug. 29., scoring a split-decision win over former UFC Champion Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley. The two fought in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,000 fans at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, live on an action-packed SHOWTIME PPV telecast.
The judges scored the fight 78-74 and 77-75 for Paul, and 77-75 for Woodley.
Shields has been the most prominent advocate for women’s boxing in years. She has also held multiple world championships in three weight classes.
In addition, Shields has held the undisputed female light middleweight title since March 2021 and the undisputed female middleweight title from 2019 to 2020. She also held the unified WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles from 2017 to 2018.
In short, she feels she only deserves a headliner bag, not an undercard or co-main event slot. Shields isn’t the headliner on the PFL MMA card. However, it is mixed martial arts, not boxing.
Kayla Harrison's fight against Taylor Guardado will headline the 2021 @PFLMMA Finals on Oct. 27.
The event will also feature Ray Cooper III vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov in the welterweight finals and Claressa Shields' second MMA fight, against Abigail Montes. (via @bokamotoESPN) pic.twitter.com/UTNGV6NsaN
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 27, 2021
“I don’t know what Amanda Serrano’s purse was, but I think it was $75,000, $100,000. I would never fight another boxing match for that much money because I’m worth so much more,” Shields said. “I’m a million-dollar fighter.”
“And before I get on the undercard of a guy that’s having a circus show, no disrespect to Tyron Woodley, no disrespect to Jake Paul, but I’m a real boxer.”
Traditionally, women’s boxing has been in the shadow of the men’s game, with some years of higher visibility based on fly-by-night female boxing stars. Laila Ali and Christy Martin are most notable, but even former undisputed female welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus never received top notoriety.
However, in MMA, women are top ticket sellers. That is why Shields ventured into another sport.
MMA: A Female Fighter’s Dream
Shields joins the PFL action in her next October event, where a divisional titleholder will be decided at heavyweight, light heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight.
However, the women’s lightweight final featuring Kayla Harrison is the main event. Harrison won the 2010 World Judo Championships, gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She is now looking for her second PFL championship against sizable underdog Taylor Guardado (3-1).
🗣 Claressa Shields:
"I could beat up Jake Paul at the weight class I'm at right now.
"I would never fight on the undercard of someone who does not possess the skills or accomplishments that I have." pic.twitter.com/sXenbP3B9V
— MansionBet (@MansionBet) September 30, 2021
Claressa Shields will take on Abigail Montes at the event, making the fight draw all about the women’s bouts.
“It’s (boxing) a sexist sport,” Shields said to The Athletic. “It’s sexist with the opportunities we’re given. It’s sexist with the TV time. It’s sexist with how much we get paid. All three.”
Shields recently agreed to a multi-fight deal with U.K. broadcaster Sky Sports. She will now appear on cards promoted by Boxxer, a British promotional company that has an output deal with Sky Sports.