Claressa Shields believes that there is a noticeable difference in how women are treated in MMA versus their treatment in boxing, and this played a role in her decision to sign with the Professional Fighters League.
Since the UFC opened up its women’s bantamweight division in 2012 with other female divisions to follow in the years to come, we have seen the promotion and its fans fully embrace the female athletes. We’ve seen women headline cards regularly, including pay per view events, and have enjoyed sharing the spotlight with the male athletes. While many would argue that women’s MMA still has a ways to go before it is as appreciated as the men’s divisions, a boxing superstar like Claressa Shields has noticed from personal experience just how far ahead women’s mixed martial arts is than women’s boxing when it comes to equal treatment.
“I feel like I’ve had fights in boxing that have captured the sports world, just women’s boxing isn’t treated equally,” Shields said in an ESPN interview Tuesday. “Every MMA league, they have women fighters main event. The PFL give women a chance to fight for a million dollars just like they give men a chance to fight in a league for a million dollars. In boxing, there aren’t those kind of opportunities for women.
“You have two or three of us that are getting paid good money, and then the rest of them are kind of just like opponents, and they don’t really have a large following and a big backing. In MMA, in the PFL, you create your own destiny, and that’s what I want to do. I created my own destiny in boxing and as far as in becoming a two-time Olympic champ, starting from the Junior Olympics to the real Olympics, world championships and now being a professional world champion. I just wanna test myself really.”
In the interview, Claressa Shields stated that she was eying a possible debut date in the late spring or early summer and begin the discovery of whether being an MMA fighter is part of her destiny.
Do you agree with Claressa Shields assessment of how women are treated in MMA vs. boxing?