Claressa Shields

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Claressa Shields
Claressa GWOAT Shields.jpg
Shields at Collision 2022
BornClaressa Maria Shields[1]
(1995-03-17) March 17, 1995 (age 28)
Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Height5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Reach68 in (173 cm)[2]
TeamJackson Wink MMA Academy (MMA)
Years active2017–present
Professional boxing record
By knockout2
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout1
By decision1
Other information
Boxing record from BoxRec
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Claressa Maria Shields[1] (born March 17, 1995) is an American professional boxer and mixed martial artist.[3] She has held multiple world championships in three weight classes, including the undisputed female light middleweight title since March 2021; the undisputed female middleweight title from 2019 to 2020; and the unified WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles from 2017 to 2018. Shields currently holds the record for becoming a two and three-weight world champion in the fewest professional fights.[4] As of October 2022, she is ranked as the world's best active female middleweight by BoxRec,[5] as well as the best active female boxer, pound for pound, by ESPN[6] and The Ring.[7]

Shields is the only boxer in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles in boxing—WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO—simultaneously, in two weight classes.

In a decorated amateur career, Shields won gold medals in the women's middleweight division at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, making her the first American boxer to win consecutive Olympic medals.[8] Shields was the youngest boxer at the February 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, winning the event in the 165 lb (75 kg) middleweight division.[9][10][11] In May, she qualified for the 2012 games, the first year in which women's boxing was an Olympic event,[12] and went on to become the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. Her only loss professional or amateur comes from British fighter Savannah Marshall.[13] In 2018, the Boxing Writers Association of America named her the Female Fighter of the Year.[14]

Early life[edit]

Shields was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, where she was a high school junior in May 2012.[9][10] She was introduced to boxing by her father, Bo Shields, who had boxed in underground leagues.[10][15] Bo was in prison from the time Shields was two years old, and released when she was nine. After his release, he talked to her about boxer Laila Ali, piquing her interest in the sport.[16] Bo, however, believed that boxing was a men's sport and refused to allow Shields to pursue it until she was eleven.[10][15][17] At that time she began boxing at Berston Field House in Flint, where she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield.[15] Shields credits her grandmother with encouraging her to not accept restrictions based on her gender.[10][18]

Amateur career[edit]

Shields (in red) vs. Yenebier Guillén Benítez, 2015

After winning two Junior Olympic championships, Shields competed in her first open-division tournament, the National Police Athletic League Championships 2011; she won the middleweight title and was named top overall fighter and also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.[19][20] At the 2012 Olympic Trials, she defeated the reigning national champion, Franchón Crews-Dezurn, the 2010 world champion, Andrecia Wasson, and Pittsburgh's Tika Hemingway to win the middleweight class.[19][10] In April 2011, she won her weight class at the Women's Elite Continental Championships in Cornwall, Ontario against three-time defending world champion Mary Spencer of Canada; she held an undefeated record of 25 wins and 0 losses at that point.[10][15][21]

Following Shields' victory at the U.S. Olympic Trials, it was initially reported that she would need only a top-8 finish at the 2012 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, in order to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.[11]

Shields with her Olympic gold medal in 2012

On May 10, the day after the contest began but before Shields' first bout, a change to the rules was announced that meant Shields would need to place in the top two from the (North, Central, and South) American Boxing Confederation region of AIBA (AMBC).[22]

Shields won her first round but was beaten in the second round on May 13 to Savannah Marshall of England, bringing Shields' record to 26–1.[23]

Her chances for qualification thus depended on Marshall's subsequent performance; after Marshall advanced to the middleweight finals on May 18, it was announced that Shields had earned an Olympic berth.[24] At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, aged 17, she won the gold medal in the women's middleweight division after beating veteran Russian boxer Nadezda Torlopova 19–12.[12][25]

In 2014, Shields won the World Championship gold medal,[26] and the following year, she became the first American to win titles in women's boxing at the Olympics and Pan American Games.[27] As a result of her performance in the Pan American Games, she was given the honour of serving as Team USA’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony.[28]

Shields won the gold medal at the 2016 AMBC Olympic Qualifying tournament in Argentina defeating Dominican Republic's Yenebier Guillen in her final bout on her 21st birthday.[29][24] Later that year at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, she won the gold medal in the women's middleweight division by defeating Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands. She was awarded the inaugural women's division of the Val Barker Trophy at the competition.[30] Her back-to-back Olympic gold medal wins made her the first American boxer to win consecutive Olympic titles.[8]

Her amateur boxing record was 64 wins (5 by knockout[23][31][32]) and 1 loss.[33][34]

Professional boxing career[edit]

In November 2016, Shields officially went pro. She won her first match, against Franchón Crews-Dezurn, by unanimous decision.[35]

On March 10, 2017, she faced Szilvia Szabados for the North American Boxing Federation middleweight title, and won by TKO. This was the main event on ShoBox, with a regional title fight between Antonio Nieves and Nikolai Potapov serving as the co-main event.[36] It was the first time a women's boxing bout was the main event on a United States premium network card.[37][38]

On June 16, 2017, Shields headlined the "Detroit Brawl," facing Sydney LeBlanc in her first scheduled eight-round bout. LeBlanc signed on with three days notice, after Mery Rancier dropped out due to visa issues.[39][40] Shields won the bout by decision after all eight rounds.[41]

On August 4, 2017, Shields defeated defending champ Nikki Adler in Detroit for the WBC super-middleweight belt and the vacant IBF super-middleweight belt. By 5th Rd TKO the ref had to jump in to protect The undefeated Nikki Adler. The fight was on Showtime.[42]

On January 12, 2018, Shields retained her WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles, and won the WBAN super-middleweight title by defeating 17-0 Tori Nelson. It was Shields' first time going all 10 rounds in her professional career.[43][44][45]

On June 22, 2018, in just her sixth professional fight, Shields defeated Hanna Gabriel by unanimous decision, winning the vacant WBA and inaugural IBF middleweight belts, breaking the record for becoming a two-weight world champion in the fewest professional fights, a record previously held by Vasyl Lomachenko.[46] During Round 1, she experienced the first knock down of her professional career. She dropped down from 168 pounds to 160 for the fight. This was her first fight with trainer John David Jackson, having worked with Jason Crutchfield for the previous 5.[47][48]

On December 8, 2018, Shields' fight aired on HBO, her first appearance on the network, a fight which was a part of the last boxing card to occur on HBO. She faced Femke Herman's outboxing her all 10 rounds for a unanimous decision.[49]

On April 13, 2019, Shields became the undisputed women's middleweight world champion, unifying the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO middleweight titles, along with The Ring magazine's inaugural middleweight belt, after defeating Christina Hammer by unanimous decision.[50] The victory was a near shutout with two judges scoring the bout 98–91 while a third judge scored it 98–92.

Shields was scheduled to fight Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title in Flint, Michigan, on October 5, 2019.[51] However, the fight was postponed due to Habazin's trainer being attacked at the weigh in.[52]

On January 10, 2020, the battle between Shields and Habazin took place with an all female ring (referee). The Atlantic boardwalk hall had a sold out Venue as Claressa won by unanimous decision, 99–89, 100–90 and 100–89, and became the fastest ever to win titles in 3 divisions male or female in history.

On March 5, 2021, Shields defeated Marie-Eve Dicaire by unanimous decision to retain her WBC and WBO super welterweight titles, claim IBF 154-pound belt, and vacant WBA light middleweight strap. With the win she has become the first world champion boxer in four-belt era to hold undisputed titles in two different weight divisions. This Fight took place in Shields hometown with limited crowd due to COVID-19 pandemic.[53][54]

Shields then faced Ema Kozin on February 5, 2022. She captured an unanimous decision with all referees scoring every round for her, and retained her WBA, WBC, IBF, and The Ring female middleweight titles meanwhile winning the WBF female middleweight title also.[55]

Shields was initially scheduled to face reigning WBO Middleweight Champion Savannah Marshall in a title unification bout on September 10, 2022.[56] However, due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II the bout was postponed to take place on October 15, 2022.[57]

On the night of the fight, Shields went the full 10 round distance against Marshall. According to CompuBox stats, Shields outlanded Marshall 175 to 136; landed significantly more jabs, 44 to 14; and landed more power, 131 to 122. Shields won via unanimous decision with two judges scoring the fight 97–93 and one scoring it 96–94, all in favor of Shields to become the undisputed middleweight world champion.[58] This fight occurred at the O2 Arena and was the first time two female boxers headlined at a major venue in the United Kingdom.[59][60] As well, the fight headlined the first all-female boxing card in the United Kingdom.[61]

Professional mixed martial arts career[edit]

In November 2020, Shields had signed a three-year contract with Professional Fighters League and was expected to make her mixed martial arts debut in 2021.[3][62] Since Shields first announced that her MMA debut, she has also begun training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has gone to train under IBJJF no gi World Champion Roberto Alencar, alongside Holly Holm.[63] She also started training at JacksonWink MMA in late 2020.[64]

Shields made her MMA debut at PFL 4 on June 10, 2021, against Brittney Elkin.[65] She won the fight via technical knockout in round three.[66]

Her second bout was initially scheduled to take place on the PFL 9 event on August 27, 2021, against an opponent yet to be named.[67] However, on July 12, 2021, news surfaced that her bout was rescheduled to take place on August 19, 2021, in order to garner more exposure at an ESPN-aired PFL 8 event.[68] It was eventually rescheduled for PFL 10 on October 27, 2021, with Shields facing Abigail Montes.[69] Shields lost the bout via split decision.[70]

Personal life[edit]

Shields and Vice President Joe Biden in 2012. Shields introduced Biden during a 2012 campaign stop in Michigan.

Shields is from Flint, Michigan. Shields was baptized at age 13 (two years after she began boxing) and began attending a local church. She found strength in her Christian faith and eventually left home.[71]

Shields attempted to adopt her cousin's daughter in 2014.[72]

Shields is an ambassador for Up2Us Sports, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth by providing them with coaches trained in positive youth development.[73]

Shields is also an ambassador for gender equality in sports, particularly boxing, which she insists is under-covered by the media.[74][75]

Shields is a pescatarian.[76]


Shields is the subject of the 2015 documentary T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold.[77][78] In 2016 Universal Pictures, a division of Comcast, which holds Olympic broadcast rights in the United States, acquired the rights to produce a film about her life story.[79] Barry Jenkins is the screenwriter.[80] Entitled Flint Strong, Rachel Morrison will be directing, with actress Ryan Destiny portraying Shields.

Shields will be acting in the Susan Seidelman-directed film Punch Me.[81]

In 2018, Shields acted in a Walmart ad directed by Dee Rees.[82][83]


In 2017, Shields won the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Award for "Biggest Powerhouse."[84] In 2018, Shields was inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association's Hall of Fame.[85] The Boxing Writers Association of America gave her the 2018 Christy Martin Award - Female Fighter of the Year.[86]

Professional boxing record[edit]

13 fights 13 wins 0 losses
By knockout 2 0
By decision 11 0
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
13 Win 13–0 Savannah Marshall UD 10 Oct 15, 2022 The O2 Arena, London, England Retained WBA, WBC, IBF, WBF, and The Ring female middleweight titles;
Won WBO female middleweight title
12 Win 12–0 Ema Kozin UD 10 Feb 5, 2022 Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales Retained WBA, WBC, IBF, and The Ring female middleweight titles;
Won WBF female middleweight title
11 Win 11–0 Marie-Eve Dicaire UD 10 Mar 5, 2021 Dort Federal Event Center, Flint, Michigan, U.S. Retained WBC and WBO light middleweight titles;
Won IBF, vacant WBA (Super), and inaugural The Ring female light middleweight titles
10 Win 10–0 Ivana Habazin UD 10 Jan 10, 2020 Ocean Casino Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won vacant WBC and WBO female light middleweight titles
9 Win 9–0 Christina Hammer UD 10 Apr 13, 2019 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, and IBF female middleweight titles;
Won WBO and inaugural The Ring female middleweight titles
8 Win 8–0 Femke Hermans UD 10 Dec 8, 2018 StubHub Center, Carson, California, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, and IBF female middleweight titles
7 Win 7–0 Hannah Rankin UD 10 Nov 17, 2018 Kansas Star Arena, Mulvane, Kansas, U.S. Retained WBA and IBF female middleweight titles;
Won vacant WBC female middleweight title
6 Win 6–0 Hanna Gabriels UD 10 Jun 22, 2018 Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Won vacant WBA and inaugural IBF female middleweight titles
5 Win 5–0 Tori Nelson UD 10 Jan 12, 2018 Turning Stone Resort Casino, Verona, New York, U.S. Retained WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles;
Won WBAN lineal super middleweight title
4 Win 4–0 Nikki Adler TKO 5 (10), 1:34 Aug 4, 2017 MGM Grand, Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Won WBC and inaugural IBF female super middleweight titles
3 Win 3–0 Sydney LeBlanc UD 8 Jun 16, 2017 Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Won vacant WBC Silver female super middleweight title
2 Win 2–0 Szilvia Szabados TKO 4 (6), 1:30 Mar 10, 2017 MGM Grand, Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Won vacant NABF female middleweight title
1 Win 1–0 Franchón Crews-Dezurn UD 4 Nov 19, 2016 T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
2 matches 1 win 1 loss
By knockout 1 0
By decision 0 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 1–1 Abigail Montes Decision (split) PFL 10 October 27, 2021 3 5:00 Hollywood, Florida, United States
Win 1–0 Brittney Elkin TKO (punches) PFL 4 June 10, 2021 3 1:44 Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States



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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
Inaugural champion NABF female
middleweight champion

March 10, 2017 – August 2017
Title next held by
Raquel Miller
Minor world boxing titles
New title WBC Silver female
super middleweight champion

June 16, 2017 – August 4, 2017
Won world title
Major world boxing titles
Preceded by WBC female
super middleweight champion

August 4, 2017 – September 2018
Title next held by
Franchón Crews-Dezurn
Inaugural champion IBF female
super middleweight champion

August 4, 2017 – June 2018
Title next held by
Elin Cederroos
Title last held by
Teresa Perozzi
WBA female
middleweight champion

June 22, 2018 – present
Inaugural champion IBF female
middleweight champion

June 22, 2018 – present
Title last held by
Christina Hammer
WBC female
middleweight champion

November 17, 2018 – present
Preceded by
Christina Hammer
WBO female
middleweight champion

April 13, 2019 – September 16, 2020
Title next held by
Savannah Marshall
Inaugural champion The Ring female
middleweight champion

April 13, 2019 – present
Undisputed female
middleweight champion

April 13, 2019 – September 16, 2020
Titles fragmented
Title next held by
Title last held by
Ewa Piątkowska
WBC light middleweight champion
January 10, 2020 – November 26, 2021
Title next held by
Patricia Berghult
Title last held by
Hanna Gabriels
WBO light middleweight champion
January 10, 2020 – November 26, 2021
Title next held by
Natasha Jonas
WBA light middleweight champion
Super title

March 5, 2021 – December 3, 2021
Preceded by IBF light middleweight champion
March 5, 2021 – December 3, 2021
Title next held by
Marie-Eve Dicaire
Inaugural champion The Ring female
light middleweight champion

March 5, 2021 – December 3, 2021
Title next held by
Natasha Jonas
Undisputed female
light middleweight champion

March 5, 2021 – November 26, 2021
Titles fragmented
Preceded by WBO female
middleweight champion

October 15, 2022 – present
Title last held by
Undisputed female
middleweight champion

October 15, 2022 – present
Cecilia Brækhus
BWAA Female Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
Preceded by Fewest professional fights
to win a major world title
in two weight classes

June 22, 2018 – present
Preceded by
Vasyl Lomachenko
Fewest professional fights
to win a major world title
in three weight classes

January 10, 2020 – present