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Fantasy Boxing Matchup: Claressa Shields vs Laila Ali

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Shields has made the challenge for today, but who would win between Claressa and the best version of Laila Ali?

Photos by Mark Brown/Getty Images and Michelly Rall/WireImage via Getty Images

Today’s fantasy boxing matchup is one that has kinda been brought up a lot recently by both fighters, but they’re talking about possibly doing it now, when one of them is long past their best years.

What if you could time travel them both on their best days to face one another? You can’t, but we’ll pretend you can!

If you’ve missed any of these, check out the hub page for the entire fantasy boxing series.

Claressa Shields vs Laila Ali

Claressa Shields is currently 25 years old. She’s won world titles in three weight classes, moving down from 168 to 160 and then to 154, and has dominated since turning pro in 2016. She had the privilege of coming into boxing when the Olympics finally allowed the women’s side of the sport on their stage, and she pretty easily won gold in both 2012 and 2016.

Laila Ali in the real world is now 42 and hasn’t fought in 12 years. So Shields wanting to fight Laila is a little preposterous; this isn’t Rocky Balboa, Ali can’t go “build some hurtin’ bombs” and come out and go a hard 10 with the current queen, most likely.

But in her day, Laila was a big star for women’s boxing, as Claressa is now. In both cases, if we’re being entirely honest, the talent pool out there is pretty small; there’s a reason Shields keeps moving down in weight trying to find challenges. Once you’ve beaten a couple contenders in a weight class, you’re often done about all there is to really do.

Ali’s career existed in a time where women’s boxing was still treated largely as novelty, while Shields is part of a growing push for the women’s side of the sport to be taken more seriously by all fans, not just niche-within-the-niche fans.

Both, at their best, can fight. Let’s say they’re at 168 pounds, in shape, on their best days.

Ali would have slight size advantages at 5’10” with a 70½” reach, compared to the 5’8” Shields and her 68” reach. Shields has quite probably had the better schooling, but Laila was a good fighter and definitely the bigger puncher of the two.

So who wins it? And please, again, remember this is not, like, if they met in 2020.

Poll

Who wins, Shields or Ali?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Claressa Shields
    (162 votes)
  • 56%
    Laila Ali
    (208 votes)
370 votes total Vote Now