Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
Anything boxing related - just ask Chris
We have entered year two of a global pandemic which has turned life as we know it upside down and inside out and made a logistical nightmare if not the outright impossibility of hosting any type of public performance or sporting event. And yet, you would never know it by looking at the upcoming boxing schedule. Here is a sneak peek into an extraordinarily full slate of women’s bouts set for March, taking place all across the globe and including a little of everything—an all-female pay-per-view fight card, several world titles up for grabs, a couple of hotly-anticipated rematches, some legends in the making returning to the prize ring, and a handful of novices raising the curtain on what they hope to belong and fruitful careers.
Whether you believe Claressa Shields or not, and it doesn’t appear to matter to her one way or the other, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed female middleweight world champion will tell anyone who will listen that she is the GWOAT, or Greatest Woman Of All Time. Taking on her most daunting assignment since consolidating the middleweight titles by outboxing Christina Hammer with surprising ease, Shields is seeking to unify a second division in her March 5 fight against Marie Eve Dicaire in recognition of International Women’s Day which falls on Monday, March 8.
Not only do Shields and Dicaire each hold a portion of the world super-welterweight championship, but both women are also currently undefeated. At a perfect 10-0 (2 KOs), Claressa Shields brings her WBC and WBO belts to the table, which were vacated by Ewa Piatkowska and Hanna Gabriels, respectively, and claimed by the Flint fighter known as ‘T-Rex’ when she shut out Ivana Habazin in Atlantic City in January 2020. Claressa has not stepped into the ring since. Having failed to lure the 43-year-old Laila Ali out of retirement and considered a transition to the caged octagon of MMA, Shields focused instead on Dicaire. Their proposed title unification had been tentatively penciled onto the calendar on a few different occasions last year, only to be erased each time due to Covid-related safety concerns.
This was followed by a squabble between Shields and Showtime, the cable network to which she was under contract and had broadcast Claressa’s last six scraps but recently severed their ties with the female superstar for reasons still unclear. Hence the March 5 all women’s boxing card being streamed live from Shields’ hometown of Flint, Michigan on Fite TV pay-per-view, a HERstoric event billed as “Superwomen.”
A southpaw fighting out of St-Eustache in Quebec, Canada, Marie Eve Dicaire will likewise be putting her unblemished record on the line, not to mention the IBF super-welterweight title she won from Chris Namus in December 2018. Additionally, the WBA will be throwing its inaugural super-welterweight title into the mix for extra incentive. All of Dicaire’s seventeen victories have occurred within the Great White North and each has lasted the full distance. To date, Dicaire’s successful defenses have come against a trio of very respectable former titleholders, namely Mikaela Lauren, Maria Lindberg, and Ogleidis Suarez. She is promoted by Yvon Michel and trains under Stephane Harnois. Claressa, on the other hand, has been working with John David Jackson since 2018 when she began splitting time between Flint and Florida and parted ways with longtime trainer Jason Crutchfield.
At 25, Shields has youth on her side as opposed to Dicaire who is 34, and if Claressa’s fourteen-month layoff is cause for concern, her Canadian adversary has been out of action since November 2019 which more or less equalizes the ring rust factor. Although Marie Eve has been far busier at the professional level, Shields has the advantage of a decorated amateur pedigree which—at 64-1 with a pair of Olympic gold medals, something no other boxer, male or female, can lay claim to—is incomparably more extensive and significant in comparison to that of Dicaire. As mentioned earlier, Dicaire has scored no knockouts while Shields has managed only two stoppages among her ten wins, so it is highly unlikely that their bout will end prematurely, regardless of Claressa’s promise to finish Marie Eve off inside of five rounds.
“I respect her skills,” Shields conceded during their Zoom press conference. She made it very clear, though, that she interprets the Canadian’s polite demeanor as an indication that she is not sufficiently confident in her chances of winning the fight. Relating that she had dreamed of participating in an event of this magnitude since she was a young girl, Dicaire retorted, “I respect Claressa’s pedigree. I respect her accomplishments, but I know I can challenge her. I know I can be in the same ring as her.”
Shields clearly wasn’t feeling the whole fellowship vibe. “I’m not coming to be Marie’s best friend. I’m coming to kick her ass, and I hope she’s ready for that,” she declared, blowing a sarcastic kiss in Dicaire’s direction.
The co-main event features an encore performance between heavyweights Danielle Perkins (2-0, 1KO) and Monika ‘Lay ‘Em Down’ Harrison (2-1-1, 1 KOs). The 38-year-old, six-foot-tall Perkins is a late bloomer as far as the fight game is considered. She is no stranger to March Madness, having gone to the NCAA’s Big Dance on two occasions as a member of the St. Johns Red Storm. From there, Danielle went on to play professional basketball in Europe before her hoops career was ended by a temporary paralysis suffered as a result of an automobile accident. Discovering boxing during her rehabilitation, Perkins went 11-1 as an amateur, winning a world championship in 2019, before debuting in the paid ranks last August with a four-round unanimous decision win over Harrison in an entertaining donnybrook at Detroit’s Kronk Gym.
Harrison, who at 37 is a construction worker and former kickboxer, had no amateur boxing experience and is looking to avenge the only loss in her two and a half year pro career. Their rematch will be an eight-rounder with the WBC Silver heavyweight championship belt on the line.
A third bout on the PPV card will see Logan Holler and Schemelle Baldwin duke it out in an eight-round middleweight prelim. Holler, a 29-year-old ascending star boxing out of South Carolina, will attempt to keep her career-long undefeated streak intact at 9-0-1 (3 KOs) against Baldwin, a southpaw who is 35 years of age and has a 50/50 success rate in her six fights thus far, with two draws and a knockout loss to Long Island’s Alicia Napoleon, whom Schemelle challenged for her WBA super-middleweight world title in August 2019.
Club Nuestra Raza in Houston will be hosting an extremely stacked card on March 5, featuring two women’s bouts. New Jersey’s Shadasia Green, an undefeated 31-year-old supper-middleweight who fought four times throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, will test herself against battle-scarred veteran Latasha Burton. Fourteen of Burton’s twenty career fights have been defeats—to notables such as Marciela Cornejo, Alicia Napoleon, Raquel Miller, Franchon Crews-Dezurn, Tori Nelson (twice), and Mary McGee—with an astounding eight of those losses occurring by way of knockout. Green, on the other hand, boasts a flawless 7-0 record as a professional and has dispatched all but one of her opponents before the final bell.
Winless super-welterweight Nina Gallegos, who has been knocked out five times in six defeats, is hoping for a better outcome against an opponent to be named later in the Houston curtain raiser. Somewhat inconceivably, Gallegos will be permitted to compete in Texas less than one month removed from a second consecutive knockout loss to Chicago’s Summer Lynn on February 6.
Also on March 5, undefeated Estelle Yoka Mossely (8-0, 1 KOs) will defend her IBO world lightweight title in her native France, at the H Arena in Nantes, against a challenger yet to be determined. Mossely is in exclusive company, owning amateur victories over Katie Taylor, Chantelle Cameron, and Natasha Jonas even if she did drop three prior decisions to Taylor and suffered six subsequent defeats at the hands of Cameron. Estelle’s split decision win against Taylor was a particularly significant one, as she bumped Katie out of contention for the 2016 World Championships in their semi-final bout in Kazakhstan’s capital of Nur-Sultan.
Three female fights will be among the sixteen scheduled for March 6 at the Champion Boxing Gym in Jonesboro, Georgia. Aida Biggs (1-0), a lefthanded super-lightweight prospect fighting out of Brooklyn, will be traveling to the Peach State in addition to fellow New Yorkers Jaica Pavilus (1-2, 1 KOs at super-bantamweight by way of Port-au-Prince, Haiti) and Feifilimai Faiva, a 4-0-1 (3 KOs) Samoan-born super-featherweight, to take on as-yet unknown opponents.
A pair of Mexican middleweight warriors who share the same first name debut opposite one another on March 6 when Citlali ‘La Conejita’ Garcia squares off against Citlali ‘Beatrix’ Ortiz in Mexicali. The 21-year-old Ortiz, who fights out of Coachella, California, achieved a 13-1 mark as a novice with the 2017 Youth World Championship, four Campeona Nacional titles, and seven national championships on her amateur resume.
Hoping to rebound from a knockout loss at the hands of Savannah Marshall while vying for the vacant WBO world middleweight title this past Halloween night, Hannah Rankin returns to action in Cape Town, South Africa on March 12. The 9-5 (2 KOs) Scot has also come up short in super-middleweight and middleweight championship bids against Alicia Napoleon and Claressa Shields, respectively, but did capture the unclaimed IBO super-welterweight title by narrowly outpointing Sarah French in 2019. Unfortunately, Rankin’s reign was short-lived, as she dropped her belt five months later to undefeated Patricia Berghult, who was also awarded the interim WBC title.
Hannah’s opponent at Pollsmoor Prison Hall, an unlikely and forbidding venue, will be Kholosa Ndobayini, a hometown fighter who hails from Soweto and has a record of 13-9 (3 KOs). In May 2019, Ndobayini won the South African lightweight title by stopping Xoliswa Jonas in the fourth of ten scheduled rounds in Johannesburg. Rankin and Ndobayini will battle it out over eight rounds or less.