Jun 11, 2021
Flint Native, Boxing Champ Claressa Shields Wins MMA Debut
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Claressa Shields found herself pinned on her back, stuck against a cage and she absorbed so many strikes to the head that the undefeated boxer seemed on the brink of defeat in MMA.
“I could have went home with an L like that,” Shields said.READ MORE: Police Mural In Sterling Heights Sparks Backlash
So, she dug deep in her debut for the fortitude that took her from Flint, Michigan, to Olympic gold — twice — and then a pro career that made her the most decorated fighter of her time.
Claressa Shields climbs the cage after a Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts bout against Brittney Elkin in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, June 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“I got myself going with those big right hands,” she said. “My right hand has never failed me.”
From the squared circle to the cage, Shields had her mighty hand take over — and had it raised in victory.
Shields made short work of Brittney Elkin, and the mixed martial arts novice proved she might have a future in the sport with a TKO win on Thursday night in the main event of a Professional Fighters League card.
Claressa Shields, right, reacts after winning a Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts bout against Brittney Elkin in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, June 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“I’m not losing this fight,” the undefeated boxer said.
Shields proved in her 155-pound lightweight fight she’s just as adept at unleashing a beating in mixed martial arts. She shook off a slow first two rounds before she got Elkin on the ground and needed a few heavy shots to cause the decisive damage. She earned the win with a right hand from the top at 1:44 of the third round.
“I feel like I am dreaming. This is crazy,” she said.
Shields ditched some of the flamboyant costumes she’s worn in boxing (where she’s 11-0) for straight red trunks and top. She still wore her hair in a blue ponytail to raise awareness to the clean water fight that’s gone on for years in her Michigan hometown.
She already won the light middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight crowns in her boxing career and was the fastest fighter in history — either male or female — to become a three-division world champion. Shields only started her MMA training in December at the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Shields calls herself the GWOAT — yes, the Greatest Woman Of All Time,
At least in boxing.
Claressa Shields, top, punches Brittney Elkin during a Professional Fighters League mixed martial arts bout in Atlantic City, N.J., early Friday, June 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In MMA, her inexperience showed early. Elkin took Shields down early in the first round and mounted her as she pounded the rookie in the face. Shields took more of a beating in one round than she did over most of her pro boxing career.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming?
Elkin landed a big right early in the second that did little to rattle Shields. Elkin went back to the mount and kept the career boxer on her back. Shields escaped trouble late in the second and swung and missed on a wild right before she connected on more head shots that set the stage for the third round.
“I kept hitting her, kept hitting her,” Shields said. “I told myself, keep hitting her until she quits.”
Shields won Olympic gold in 2012 in London and repeated the feat four years later in Rio de Janeiro.
Shields cut a wide swath of fans: 76ers center Dwight Howard wrote “Let’s go champ” on Instagram and actress Rosie Perez tweeted “Best of luck tonight.” Ray Lewis, who has an equity stake in PFL and serves on its advisory board, watched cage-side and admired Shields’ decision to shift to MMA while still in the prime of her boxing career.
“The genius of champions making transitions is they start all over and don’t care,” said Lewis, the Hall of Fame linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. “Lot of people are afraid to start over. They end their careers, I’m stuck, I’m good. But when you make that transition, you’re chasing something else. I think she’s chasing something else and just that’s good to see. I just love her adapting to it.”
FILE – In this March 3 2021, file photo, boxers Claressa Shields speaks during a news conference in Flint, Mich. Shields did it all in boxing. Two-time Olympic gold medalist. Professional titles in three weight classes. Now she’ll try to conquer MMA, starting with her pro debut for Professional Fighters League on Thursday night, June 10, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)
CEO Peter Murray said Shields would fight one more time this year for PFL before a decision was made for 2022.
“This is just her first step to prove to herself that she has really what it takes to make the ’22 season,” Murray said.
One potential dream match for 2022 in the PFL would have Shields fight Kayla Harrison. Harrison, a two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, has emerged as the face of PFL. Harrison (9-0) fights again on June 25.
“We think that’s a pay-per-view fight,” Murray said. “That starts tonight.”
Unlike other MMA organizations, the PFL uses a season format, with playoffs and a championship fight night that awards a $1 million prize for each of its six weight class champions. Four fighters each in PFL’s featherweight and men’s lightweight division advanced on Thursday.
Shields was billed as fighting in PFL’s first showcase fight.
Murray said that PPV is on the horizon for PFL. Thursday’s card aired on ESPN2, and the league has yet to decide when or where it will stage its championship fight night. The PFL held its two previous finales on Dec. 31 in New York. Murray said the fight card could come before December.MORE NEWS: Caught On Camera: MSP Escort Ducks Home
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Tags: boxing claressa shields flint michigan mma olympic boxing on thursday night claressa shields two time olympic the third round gold medalist in the second shields said olympic gold early a beating on her back
Chris Eubank Jr to return by September and could go ‘straight into world title fight’, says promoter Kalle Sauerland
CHRIS EUBANK JR is set to return by September and could go 'straight into the world title fight', his promoter Kalle Sauerland said.
The middleweight contender beat Marcus Morrison in May - his first fight since December 2019.2Chris Eubank Jr is set to return by SeptemberCredit: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
It was also Eubank's first time out under new trainer Roy Jones Jr and Saundeland, Head of Global Boxing at Wasserman.
The promoter revealed talks are underway for the son of a legend's next fight, which could be for a middleweight championship.
Saundeland told Sky Sports: "Eubank has got a massive, massive second half of this year.
"He's obviously come back with that Morrison fight. We're sitting down now to work out the plan for the rest of the year.
"Is it one more fight, let's say at a domestic level? Do we go straight into the world title fight?
"There are lots of different discussions going on at the moment. Expect a big, big announcement in the next week to ten days, I would say."
Saundeland had announced plans for Eubank to have a second tune-up fight before challenging for a belt by the end of the year.
IBF champion Gennady Golovkin, 39, and Ryota Murata, who has the WBA belt, were among the targeted names.View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Chris Eubank Jr (@chriseubankjr)
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But promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed talks for Demetrius Andrade, 33, to defend his WBO strap against Eubank were also underway.
The Brit is already training again as Saundeland hailed his partnership with American legend Jones, 52.
He said: "We're very, very excited because him and Roy Jones, it's like the dynamic duo.
"Fantastic combination, fantastic link-up, and they're just great fun to work with.
"He's [Eubank Jr] training really, really hard and I think he'll be out late August, early September. That's what we're looking at right now.2Chris Eubank Jr beat Marcus Morrison on his return fightCredit: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
"We're meeting later this week to decide what route we go.
"There are two fights left this year, we know that, and it's a question of what the trainer wants as well, which is something new by the way in the Eubank circle.
"Roy has got a big say there and junior obviously, and senior with his wisdom and years of experience. We've got a big board meeting, let's call it that.
"You don't often have that with boxers, it has a board meeting feel to it and we're looking forward to that. That's the end of this week.
"There is definitely world title action this year."Chris Eubank Jr greets nurses at children’s charity after donating £10,000 winnings from Saunders vs Canelo bet