Boxing champion Claressa Shields will make her MMA debut at a PFL event on June 10, the promotion announced on Tuesday.
A two-time Olympic gold medallist, Shields signed a three-year contract with the PFL in November of last year, with the intention of continuing her boxing career while she also competes in MMA. She has been training at Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, the home to former UFC lightweight champion Jon Jones, Holly Holm and Michelle Waterson, among others.
The fight is scheduled for the main card of the fourth event of the PFL's 2021 regular season which will be held at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. This will also mark her promotional debut. It will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and YouTube in the United Kingdom.
Shields, 26, of Michigan, Flint, improved her professional boxing record to 11-0 last month when she outpointed Marie-Eve Dicaire in a unanimous decision to add the IBF, WBA and The Ring female light middleweight titles to her growing collection of belts.
She was linked to a unification title fight with Savannah Marshall earlier this month, but has decided to try her hand at MMA instead, citing a growing sense of frustration with the coronavirus pandemic. There are currently no plans for her to take part in the league's tournament structure at the moment.
"Going through the pandemic, it was a depressing time," Shields said to Michael Strahan on 'Good Morning America.' "I wasn't in the ring. I had gained a whole bunch of weight and I'm like, 'I've accomplished everything in boxing.'"
"In my mind, I'm just like, 'You know what? I think it's time to try MMA,'" she added.
You may be fooled by the big smile and occasional celebrity endorsement (or two) but Shields is using her platform to push for equality in a sport dominated by white old men in suits.
The three-weight world champion used her recent interview to draw attention to a range of issues, including her fight for female boxers to be paid the same as their male counterparts.
"There are a lot more changes that need to be done. It is just an unfair playing field," she said. "The pay discrepancy, it's mind-boggling to me. There's not a boxer - male or female - who have accomplished what I've accomplished."News Now - Sport News