There are a few parallels between Ronda Rousey and Claressa Shields. Both are former Olympians who sought to carry their respective sports into the new frontier. Rousey has already done her duty of taking women’s MMA to heights it had never seen before. And the 21-year-old two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist plans to do the same when she makes her professional debut on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward.
But the similarities stop there. For one, Shields has accomplished what Rousey didn’t. Rousey only managed to take home a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic games while Shields took home the gold for the U.S. in 2012 and 2016 as a boxer.
Regardless, the media has often tried to create friction between the two and have approached Shields about a potential fight with Rousey. Shields, respectfully, shrugged the notion off. But with her pro debut on the way, there are many who believe that she’ll be the “Ronda Rousey of women’s boxing.” But the pride of Flint, Michigan doesn’t need to be the “Ronda Rousey” of anything.
“I definitely wouldn’t say I’d be the Ronda Rousey of women’s boxing because I’m going to be the Claressa Shields of women’s boxing,” Shields told Champions. Although Rousey is credited for the soaring popularity of women’s MMA, Shields said that the media had just as much, if not more, to do with her ascent into the mainstream than her skills did.
“Ronda did a very good job of bringing women’s MMA to the forefront. But people have to realize that the media helped her a lot,” Shields said. “The media spoke of her like she was a female power goddess, which she was. But only a few years and twelve fights and then the media said she can beat a man or any woman?”
Shields is clearly not trying to disrespect what Rousey has done for the sport, but certainly feels that the media created a monster. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but Shields believes that she has the potential to make a bigger impact on women’s boxing with her undeniable talent.
“I think I pattern my style after Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson because that’s who I looked up to and I fight in a style that’s right in between theirs with 1/4 of Mike Tyson,” she said. Her amateur record backs up her claims as she amassed a 77-1 record during her career. And now that the headgear is off, Shields believes that the boxing world will be turned upside down by her talent.
“The fans can expect to see a strong boxer with skill that no woman boxer has ever showed before,” she said. “A lot of women can get in there and fight but I do the basics and throw everything pretty well. They may confuse me with a guy when I’m fighting.”
And if she can get a microcosm of the push the media helped Rousey with, she’ll revive women’s boxing and be the sport’s next big superstar.
“The media pumped her up and that had a lot to do with her success,” she said. “It’s the same thing here. I just have to do double. I have two gold medals and I’m pro now and hopefully the media will be doing the same thing for me as they did for her.”