Shields earned a unanimous decision over Dicaire and scored a larger victory for her sport.
Claressa Shields took a chance.
When the networks wouldn’t broadcast her fight against the Canadian Marie-Eve Dicaire, Shields took it to pay-per-view on Friday night, betting that her fans would follow.
She promised those fans it would be worth it. How could it not be, she asked beforehand. She already called herself the G.W.O.A.T., the “Greatest Woman of All Time,” and the day before the fight, proclaimed herself to be history’s second-best fighter, behind only Muhammad Ali.
With so much at stake, under so much pressure as she tested both her sport and her skills, she needed to succeed. And, in 10 rounds of punches so snappy they looked like blurs, she did.
Shields (11-0) beat Dicaire (17-1) to remain undefeated and become the first undisputed champion, male or female, in two weight divisions in the four-belt era.
Despite an occasionally awkward broadcast and a live audience in Flint, Mich., that was limited to about 300 by the pandemic, it was a victory for women’s sports, too, and that’s what Shields had been hoping for.
Shields called the networks sexist for turning their backs on women’s boxing during the pandemic and broadcasting men’s fights instead. (Her previous fight, scheduled for last May, was postponed by Showtime and never rescheduled.) As outspoken as usual, she made her gripes public.
The networks don’t show women’s fights enough. They don’t pay women’s fighters enough. And belt organizations don’t respect women’s fighters enough: Women fight two-minute, 10-round title bouts, while men fight three-minute, 12-round contests. Shields said boxing authorities were “degrading us” because they don’t think women can physically handle the extra time in the ring.
While she didn’t give fans a knockout, as she had promised, she did give them a good show, fighting in a coiled crouch and dictating the pace throughout. Dicaire, the underdog, hung in until the end, though Shields was clearly the better boxer.
Shields’s success made her the undisputed 154-pound champion of the world, adding the super welterweight title to her many credentials. She is already the undisputed middleweight champion.
Next up: counting the pay-per-view buys to see how many fans tuned in.
Whatever those numbers are, Shields said before the fight, she would build on this event. Her goal is to boost her brand but, even more important, build women’s boxing into a sport that can glow on its own in the spotlight.