Undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor has stressed how she hopes Claressa Shields will focus on boxing instead of MMA.
Shields is an undefeated professional boxer and is currently the undisputed light middleweight champion but made her debut in MMA earlier this year.
The American won her first contest via technical knockout last June but lost her second fight to Abigail Montes via split decision.
Speaking on the MMA Hour, Taylor admitted she was impressed with Shields’ courage in transitioning to MMA, especially because the two sports are completely different but stressed that she wants the former Olympic champion to concentrate on boxing now.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” she said. “But I thought it was a fantastic challenge for her to take on, because boxing and MMA are two completely different sports. It’s very, very hard for anyone in boxing to cross over, because obviously we have no ground game.
“If anybody got me to the ground, for example, it would be a huge problem for me. I think obviously you always have a puncher’s chance maybe, but it’s a priority — it’s very, very hard to stay on your feet. So I think it was an admirable challenge for her to take on. But I would love for her just to focus on boxing now.”
Despite having just 11 professional boxing fights so far, Shields is considered to be one of the greatest female fighters of the modern era.
The 26-year-old was the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing in 2012 and retained her gold medal four years later at Rio 2016.
She has held multiple world championships in three weight classes and is the only boxer in history to hold all four major world titles in boxing across two weight classes.
Taylor believes the American can do far more for women’s boxing than she can MMA, and teased a potential clash against Savannah Marshall in the near future.
Marshall defeated Shields as an amateur and a rematch between the two appears to be on the cards.
“There’s a lot of big fights out there for her,” Taylor said.
“The likes of Savannah Marshall, who’s a fantastic world champion fighter, and I think Savannah actually beat her as an amateur fighter, so that is a huge, huge, huge fight for them. It’s probably one of the biggest fights in women’s boxing.”
Meanwhile, Taylor is preparing for a potential super fight of her own against Amanda Serrano.
The Irish star was scheduled to face the unified featherweight world champion back in 2020, but the fight was cancelled due to Covid.
While neither fight is yet to be officially confirmed, 2022 could prove to be a blockbuster year for women’s boxing.