As her ongoing feud with Jake Paul continues, Claressa Shields has denied having knowledge of her manager’s apparent pursuit to get her onto the YouTuber’s cards.
What initially began as a seemingly harmless back and forth between Paul and Shields on social media and in interviews has now turned into a bitter feud featuring threats of legal action, comments on sexual assault accusations, and now leaked emails.
The rivalry picked up when Paul chose to mock Shields following her first professional loss in combat sports last October. Having won her MMA debut with a memorable comeback, Shields was unable to overcome her ground deficiencies when she met Abigail Montes at the 2021 PFL Finale.
After “The Problem Child” branded Shields a “loser” for her two-fight MMA career and attitude, the two-time Olympic gold medalist hit back on Twitter.
“This is funny. You come running when I lose a split decision in a while new world mma but never even once said “congrats on all you’ve done and aspire to do.” 2 things that remain Jake, I still fight better than you & you won’t accomplish 10% of what I have in boxing or life.”
Fast forward just over a month of further exchanges and Paul’s management team BAVAFA Sports made a surprising claim. In their own social media post, they suggested Shields’ team had been trying to get onto the YouTuber-turned-boxer’s cards, a sentiment shared by Paul to USA Today Sports+.
“We didn’t want her on for many different reasons. She took that to heart,” claimed Paul.
Unsurprisingly, Shields wasn’t about to let her reputation be damaged without a fight. In a Twitter rant, the 26-year-old threatened to sue Paul and his team for defamation.
New Evidence Comes To Light
In the tweet from Jake Paul’s management team, they hinted at having “receipts” that supported their claims. In leaked emails obtained by USA Today Sports+, that evidence has now come to light, and it makes for pretty grim reading for Shields and her team.
In correspondences sent to Paul’s manager Nakisa Bidarian by Shields’ manager Mark Taffet and promoter Dmitry Salita, the boxing champion’s team apparently pushed to get their client on two cards that featured Paul.
Per USA Today Sports+’s review of the emails, an initial pursuit of a place for Shields on the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. card in November 2020 didn’t come to fruition.
Discussing why there was no place for the “GWOAT,” Bidarian, who assisted Triller’s Ryan Kavanaugh ahead of the event, suggested she simply didn’t have the numbers or viewers to justify the remuneration her manager was after.
“Claressa is obviously one of the best female boxers of all time, but the numbers (of viewers) she has didn’t make sense for us in terms of what Mark was hoping to achieve for her (in purse money), so I didn’t think it added to the Tyson-Jones pay-per-view, which ended up being the eighth largest in history,” said Bidarian.
While Shields was seemingly snubbed, Paul featured on the undercard, brutally knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson and further extending his venture into the sport of boxing.
Shields’ Manager Tries Again…
In another leaked email the next year, Taffet allegedly requested a spot for Shields on the April 17 card, which was built around and headlined by Paul’s clash with former ONE and Bellator welterweight titleholder Ben Askren.
Given Shields’ insistence that she’d never even think of competing on one of the Cleveland native’s cards, this revelation is more than shocking.
The leaked email, sent by Taffet to Bidarian on March 15, included Shields’ impressive feat of becoming the first boxer in history to simultaneously hold all four major world titles across two weight classes and championed for Triller to include her on their card.
“Claressa had a historic win … to become the first man or woman in the four-belt era to win an undisputed world title in two weight divisions. We are now beginning a plan for our next few fights, and would love to discuss out plan with you to see if Triller is interested in being the video platform of the world’s greatest female fighter. We would love to participate on your April 17 card if you have a slot available.”
After acknowledging Showtime’s decision to cut ties with Shields due to a disappointingly-low viewership, Bidarian, who is also a former UFC chief financial officer, turned down the request, and the card proceeded without the presence of the Michigan native.
“There wasn’t a business need that made sense and Jake had not started to focus on, ‘What can I do for boxing as a whole?’” Bidarian said. “Jake was still focused on building his own foothold into boxing.”
Shields: “I Don’t Care What The Email Says”
Given Claressa Shields’ consistent and stern rebuttal that she wouldn’t consider fighting on a Jake Paul card, which has even seen legal threats and defamation claims, the leaked emails are certainly a less-than-positive look for her and her team.
With that in mind, it’s unsurprising she was quick to deny knowledge of them ever being sent or of her manager’s efforts to secure her place on the November 2020 and April 2021 cards.
Reacting to the emails, she told USA Today Sports+ there was “never” an instance where she was meant to or planning on competing at an event featuring “The Problem Chid,” nor would she ever consider doing so, no matter the size of the pay check.
“I was never, ever supposed to fight on an undercard of Jake Paul. I don’t care what the email says,” Shields said. “I would never do that, no matter how much they’re paying me. And everything has to go through me.”
Whether or not she had knowledge of the emails is one thing, but the fact her team sent them, knowing her apparent and public stance on the matter now, is surprising. Discussing why Paul’s team chose to release the emails to USA Today Sports+, Bidarian said they weren’t ready to let Shields “belittle” Paul.
“The only reason we’re bringing this to light is because Claressa has felt this need to belittle Jake Paul,” Bidarian said. “The only thing we’re responding with now is, ‘Hey, we have the receipts: You guys were trying to get on Jake Paul’s cards.’”
Despite her denial, some will certainly suggest Shields was open to doing business with Paul prior to their feud igniting later in 2021.
If Shields did have no idea of her team’s efforts to work with Paul’s team, it will likely have sparked a heated debate within the boxing champion’s camp, something she’ll hope to have resolved when she returns to action.
After professional boxing was suspended in the UK throughout January due to COVID-19, Shields’ scheduled clash with Slovenia’s Ema Kozin has been pushed back to February 5.
Whether this feud will die down or remain as heated as ever is anyone’s guess, but with Shields’ ongoing pursuit of glory both inside the ring and the cage and Paul’s blossoming venture into the ring set to continue throughout 2022, both will certainly have their hands full between the ropes.
What do you make of Shields’ team’s apparent attempts to get her onto the same cards as Jake Paul?
Transcripts courtesy of USA Today Sports+.