By: Sean Crose
What does one do after capturing Olympic Gold on several occasions and after winning numerous world titles? Apparently the same thing other combat sports figures have done after finding themselves at the top of the figurative heap – move on to another combat sport. Like Holly Holm, who moved from boxing to MMA, and Conor McGregor, who moved from MMA to boxing, Claressa Shields, one of the top – if not THE top – woman’s boxer on earth, is crossing the figurative street. “The Women’s P4P #1 Boxer – @Claressashields is now a PFL athlete!,” Pro Fight League tweeted on Tuesday morning.
“I wanted to test myself,” Shields is quoted by ESPN as saying. “I want to see if I can be a world champion in boxing and a world champion in MMA. That’s something I want to test myself on. I’m not saying boxing is easy, but I’ve been on top of the world for almost 14 years now.” Branching out clearly has an allure, but few are truly successful at it when it comes to professional fighting. In fact, Holly Holm is the only crossover this author can think of who has achieved a universal high level of success.
Other top fighters, such as the aforementioned McGregor and former boxing great James Toney, have crashed and burned in the ring and octagon respectively. Then again, those two stepped in to face the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Randy Couture. Should Shields work her way up through the ranks of MMA, as Holm did after stints as a championship boxer and kickboxer, she might find more success. As things stand, the Michigan native wishes to participate in both sports simultaneously. No one can accuse the woman of lacking ambition. This is clearly not someone who wants to sit back and earn easy paydays.
Nor is Shields someone who lacks confidence. “THE GWOAT HAS ARRIVED!!!” she tweeted Tuesday morning. With a ring record of 10-0, perhaps it’s understandable that Shields would be unafraid to try her hand at a new sport. She’s never truly known defeat – at least not at a professional level. The question now is whether or not the fearsome competitor can perform effectively in what is essentially a completely different sport than the one where she has found her great success. Pro Fight League certainly hopes so. It’s making quite the big deal of Shields joining their organization.
Indeed, Shields will not compete in the same fashion most PFL combatants do. For, unlike the UFC, PFL is an actual league with actual seasons – except in the case of Shields, who appears to be an exception. Clearly PFL feels the Claressa Shields’ business is well worth it. Then again, why wouldn’t they? Many fight fans were unaware of the organization’s existence until now. Big names mean big publicity.