By: Hans Themistode
It’s been a long time coming for women’s boxing in terms of recognition. Too many times have they been swept to the side while the men steal all of the shine and spotlight.
This Friday night on January 10th, at the Ocean Resort Casino, in Atlantic City, Claressa Shields will headline the first boxing card of the year on the Showtime network. It isn’t exactly out of the ordinary to see a woman on the televised portion of a boxing card, but to see two fights that will be aired live is certainly abnormal.
Some of the most recognizable names in the sport of women’s boxing have advocated for women to get their fair shake in terms of recognition and pay. Although they haven’t exactly turned the corner just yet, they are getting close.
“For us women to have this opportunity, I mean it’s hard to find words to describe it,” said Alicia Napoleon. “We finally got here. I just want to thank God, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for these opportunities and for these doors to open. For the hearts to change and turn, to view women’s boxing as equal. We’re getting there.”
For Napoleon (12-1, 7 KOs) she currently holds the WBA Super Middleweight world title and hasn’t tasted defeat since 2016. Her opponent on the night, Elin Cederroos (7-0, 4 KOs) is a champion in her own right as she holds the IBF strap. To call this the most difficult contest in the career of Napoleon wouldn’t be hyperbole. With that being said however, Napoleon doesn’t seem to be fazed by that statement in the slightest. Not only does she see herself as the victor come Friday night, but she also has eyes set on who many believe is the best female fighter in the world, who just so happens to be fighting on the same card.
“This is a fabulous opportunity and I am overjoyed to be here. I am so grateful to just show out and put on a great performance. Grab those titles and continue to move forward and face Shields.”
Shields and Napoleon have a bit of history between them. During the infancy stages of the career of Shields, Napoleon was offered a fight with the two time Olympic gold medalist. The WBA Super Middleweight champion turned down the opportunity. Although it may seem as though Napoleon wanted no parts of Shields in the ring, that is far from the truth.
“I did not avoid her but I want to get paid. I want to make decent money. I want to eventually get paid as well as the men are getting paid in this sport. When Claressa first started they weren’t offering the sort of money that there offering now but that money still needs to be more, sorry, but it does. It needs to change. Women offer just as much as the men. But no, I did not avoid Claressa.”
For those on the outside looking in, it may seem as though Napoleon is completely looking past her opponent. Discussing a future contest with Shields would lead to the belief that Napoleon is convinced that she will walk through Cederroos without many issues. Yet, that just isn’t the case. The realization of a dream coming true has brung her excitement to unparalleled heights.
“When I started boxing I always said that I would love to be a world champion one day. My goal was to get at least one belt but now that I am here and unifying, I want more.”
Napoleon’s desire for more money, recognition and fame could be just within her reach. Provided of course, she gets through Elin Cederroos on January 10th.