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Claressa Shields speaks in-depth about MMA training, why she would never fight on a Jake Paul Undercard, and why MMA fans are more loyal to fighters

Posted on 10/01/2021

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Women In Sports Foundation

Claressa Shields begins the second chapter of her MMA career on October 27 against Abigail Montes of Mexico.

After years of dominance in the squared circle, Shields admits the rise inside the cage is a more frustrating one. Likening personal achievements in the octagon to being a “kid in a candy store,” each passing day presents new opportunities for the boxing “GWOAT” to climb the ranks in her new discipline.

Speaking to BoxingInsider.com in-depth on Zoom, Shields discusses the inner workings of her MMA preparation, why she would never fight on a Jake Paul undercard, her admiration for her fellow women fighters (particularly Katie Taylor), and Flint Strong the upcoming film based on her life starring actress/singer Ryan Destiny.

Is Claressa the boxer different from Claressa the MMA fighter? 

CS: I would say when I think about myself inside of boxing,  I don’t have any doubts. And I don’t have many frustrations. And then when I look at myself inside the cage, because I’m just now starting,  I don’t have doubts, but I have more frustrations. So I feel like when I do good in MMA, I feel like a little kid inside the candy store. And then when I do good in boxing, it’s like ‘You’re the GWOAT, that’s what you’re supposed to do.’

I just accept it more when it’s in boxing, but when I’m in MMA and I’m doing it, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. So to be winning fights and have any success in training and stuff like that. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

There’s a disparity in how women are promoted in MMA vs boxing. But within that, the fans seem to respect [women] MMA fighters more than boxing fans. What do you think the MMA fans have figured out that boxing fans haven’t?

CS: I think the MMA fans have figured out loyalty.  I feel like in boxing we have this thing where you have to be an undefeated fighter for us to respect you. In MMA. They’re like ‘We’re gonna respect every MMA fighter especially the ones who we cheer for win Lose or Draw because it takes so much to get inside the cage and so much to be great at that sport.’

Same thing with boxing it takes a lot to be great at boxing too. But I feel like the boxing fans, are just like if you’re not undefeated then they don’t respect you as being the great that you are. You have one bad night…I mean we watched Anthony Joshua be damn near a unified champ and He lost to Andy Ruiz. I feel like the UK boxing fans are some of the most loyal fans to their fighters. And they all kind of flipped on AJ, you know, and saying like, “Oh, he’s not as good as everybody thinks,” or “he fights like an amateur. He got too much muscle.” They were saying all these mean things about him. 

Nobody was saying mean stuff when he was knocking all the good guys out. Then in MMA, like I said, Conor McGregor. I don’t know he lost his last two MMA fights last three. But guess what? His fans still show up to the arena to see him. Still say Conor McGregor is the goat, still, respect Conor McGregor regardless of his losses. That’s just the difference between the two fans. I feel like in MMA, I’m respected so much because boxers don’t make the switch to MMA

What’s a narrative you’ve heard out there that you just don’t want to hear any more?

CS: Women can’t sell tickets, you know, or women don’t have a large fan base. I don’t want to hear that shit no more because it’s a lie. I think it’s time for women in boxing to start getting the opportunities that men get to start being able to fight on major cards, pay per view, main events on all these networks, and also being paid correctly. You know, they make up all these excuses as to why women don’t get paid the same as the men.

Will we see a battle of the sexes match between men and women boxers?

CS: I’ve actually had an exhibition fight against a man. It was an exhibition by in Flint, Michigan for a charity event. And I boxed against this boxer from Detroit. I don’t know his name, they said his nickname was Mooka. I boxed against him and this was before they started all this exhibition stuff that they got now. I literally had on a dress, it was a ball gown dress. I ended up changing into my boxing outfit and me and him boxed 4 rounds. This was in 2014, 2015. I think it’s definitely possible, it just depends on what females you picking.

Thoughts on Jake Paul:

CS: I basically said to Jake Paul can beat me in a boxing match and I’ll never fight on an undercard of his. But I also said, to my knowledge, Amanda Serrano made $75,000 for her fight. And I’m like, but the guys made millions. That wasn’t right. The fact that what she was paid wasn’t right and that she wasn’t the main event wasn’t right TO ME. And that’s why I wouldn’t do it. And people were like oh, you [taking a shot at] Serrano? But I was like a no, the shot was clearly to Jake Paul.

Claressa Shields will face Abigail Montes at the 2021 PFL Championship on Wednesday, October 27th!

For our full, in-depth interview, visit BoxingInsider.com on YouTube or click below.

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