Claressa Shields intends to drop down to the junior middleweight limit again now that she has been crowned women’s boxing’s undisputed middleweight champion for the second time.
The undefeated champion in three divisions would love to fight with either British titleholder for the 154-pound division. But Shields stated that she would rather face Natasha Jonas than Terri Harper. Jonas (12-2-1, 8 KOs) and Harper (13-1-1, 6 KOs) fought to a 10-round split draw in August 2020, thus there’s not much that separates them, but Shields noticed Jonas had a lot to say before Shields defeated Savannah Marshall on October 15 at O2 Arena in London.
“Either or,” Shields told BoxingScene.com, “but Natasha Jonas was doing an interview and she was saying Savannah Marshall was gonna knock me out, and when Savannah Marshall lands, girls don’t get up. She was just riding Savannah Marshall’s coattails so hard, I really wanna beat her up some more.”
The 27 year-old Shields beat Marshall by unanimous decision. This long-awaited fight was postponed five weeks after Queen Elizabeth II died. Judges rated Shields (13-0 and 2 KOs), a 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94 winner over Marshall (12-1 and 10 KOs), who is the only woman to have beaten Marshall in an amateur or professional boxing match.
Liverpool’s Jonas, meanwhile, will encounter an opponent Shields dominated, Marie-Eve Dicaire, on Saturday night at AO Arena in Manchester, England (Sky Sports; 7 p.m. GMT).
Jonas will defend the WBC and WBO belts she holds against Dicaire (18-1-1, 1KO). Quebec’s Dicaire will put up the IBF junior middleweight championship she regained by winning her last fight, nine months after Shields shut her out on all three scorecards to take it from her.
Most sportsbooks list Jonas, 28, as a 4-1 favorite against Dicaire in their 10-round match between southpaws. Assuming Jonas wins, Shields wouldn’t hesitate to travel to England again to fight her.
“I had so much fun in the UK,” Shields said in reference to meeting Marshall in her rival’s home country. “The lead up, the press conference, the face-off, I had a glorious time. You know, even though I beefed with some of the people over there, some of the fans, Savannah Marshall’s fans, it was fine and I had a great time. I love the way that boxing fans are truly passionate.
“Like, they showed up, they cheered, they booed and then they did what was right after the fight, which is cheer for the winner. I was able win them over and would love to go back to the UK to show my skills. If the UK is where women’s boxing is big at right now, that’s where I’ll be at, until America gets on board.”
If Shields-Jonas doesn’t materialize next, Shields could turn her attention to Harper. The 26-year-old Harper, who owns the IBO and WBA 154-pound championships, most recently unanimously out-pointed another fighter Shields shut out, Scotland’s Hannah Rankin (12-6, 3 KOs), on September 24 at Nottingham Arena in Nottingham, England.
“Right now, we wanna have fights that are big,” Shields said. “Women at 154 right now have the names and the fans, and they’re both from the UK, Natasha Jonas and Terri Harper. I think those fights would be great for the sport again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist at BoxingScene.com. You can reach him on Twitter @Idecboxing.