Claressa Shields and Cecilia Braekhus are two of the most highly-ranked, highly-respected women’s boxers in the world, with Shields having won world titles in three divisions (moving down each time) after two Olympic gold medals, and Braekhus having reigned as undisputed welterweight champion since 2014, and recognized as the top welterweight in the sport longer than that. She’s held at least two titles since 2009.
Shields (10-0, 2 KO) has been working through Showtime trying to expand the scope of women’s boxing in the United States, while Braekhus (36-0, 9 KO) was the first woman to ever headline an HBO boxing card in Dec. 2018 (it was HBO’s last boxing event ever, and Shields was on the undercard) and is now working with Matchroom Boxing, who of course air fights on DAZN.
Braekhus, 38, is lined up to face 140-pound titleholder Jessica McCaskill next, while Shields, 25, was set to face Marie Eve Dicaire at 154 pounds on May 9, which has also been postponed.
But there’s been talk about Shields maybe getting down to 147 or even just 150 for a catchweight bout with Braekhus for a while. That doesn’t seem likely, judging by the Twitter interaction the two have had in recent days.
Braekhus stated, responding to a fan who said she didn’t need a Shields fight, “Fights against Katie Taylor and Cris Cyborg will both be bigger on a global scale. A fight against Amanda Serrano would be a huge hit here in the States and in the Latino community.”
We know that undisputed lightweight champion Taylor and Braekhus have also been rumored for a big fight at some point, possibly at a catchweight around 142. Taylor is set to face Serrano next, and if Serrano wins, that would be another fight to make. And MMA star Cris Cyborg has re-entered the Braekhus discussion once again.
Shields and Braekhus got into a little spat over nonsense that doesn’t matter much at all, and then Shields opened up.
“Stop lying to the fans saying you will fight me knowing damn well you won’t,” she told Braekhus. “I’ve come from 168 to 154 and now you making all kind of excuses. You real shady to the public. Trying to say I make peanuts, I make more money than you.”
Braekhus replied, “I say you have to make me an offer that makes me want to walk away from fights against (Taylor, Cyborg, or Serrano). You are not even close.”
“Play games with somebody else, love, I’m really about that action,” Shields said. “It’s clear you want attention. But I’m done giving it to you. I’ll have [manager] Mark Taffet reach out to Tom Loeffler as he has before to be told that you think I’m just too big and strong for you. Good day.”
There is money to be made and distributed in a Shields-Braekhus fight, but Braekhus might also be right that Shields’ team simply can’t or won’t offer what Matchroom will to make a fight with Katie Taylor or Amanda Serrano, or what Matchroom can come up with for a fight with Cris Cyborg, which — no offense to Shields, Taylor, or Serrano — is actually probably the biggest event of any of these ideas.
Personally, I’d love to see Shields-Braekhus at 154 or 150. But it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards, as Braekhus is aging and has her sights set on other big fights in women’s boxing, and Shields, who just might not be really able to go much or any lower than 154, could continue to struggle to find good opponents simply because there just aren’t that many actually good fighters over welterweight, and she’s kind of already beaten the handful out there.