By Ade Adedoyin & James Cohen
Three-weight world champion Claressa Shields has welcomed the prospect of a potential bout with former champion Laila Ali, claiming the 42-year-old only “fought soccer moms”.
Ali, daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali, won all 24 of her professional fights and claimed the WBC, WIBA, IWBF and IBA super-middleweight belts before retiring in 2007.
But recent interviews have prompted talk of a potential super-fight between Ali and her fellow American.
Shields, the WBC and WBO light-middleweight champion, told BBC Sport: “It started when they asked her if she’d ever come out of retirement, and she said no because no girl is good enough to give her a challenge. Like it would be too easy for her.
“That was disrespectful to me. If you think I’m easy for you to just come out of retirement and just beat me, then you’re strangely mistaken.”
Shields, 24, has won all 10 of her professional fights – and her victory over Ivana Habazin in January made her the fastest boxer in history to win titles in three different weight classes.
The two-time Olympic champion is also one of only seven fighters to hold the four major world titles – WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO – at the same time.
“I think she’ll come in and underestimate me,” said Shields, who previously won titles at middleweight and super-middleweight.
“She fought soccer moms. I’ve fought former world champions. I compared my first 10 fights with her last 10 and if you look at their records you will see that she fought against people with majority losses.
“Messing with me is a whole different animal.”
Shields believes boxing has “changed 100%” in the 13 years since Ali’s retirement.
“She’s going to come in thinking that because she’s bigger, and she’s Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and she was 24-0 back in the day, that the skill level of fighters is still the same as back then,” she added.
Responding to Ali’s claim it would cost $5m (£3.9m) to tempt her out of retirement, Shields said: “The money is there.
“She may have all that stuff going on but she isn’t making $10m in 20 minutes, that’s for sure. Or five. The winner gets $10m, that’ll be me. She’ll get five.”
‘I’m super serious about MMA’
As well as looking forward to a fight with Ali, Shields expects to make her debut in mixed martial arts (MMA) in late 2020 or early 2021.
“I’m super serious about MMA,” she said.
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“Boxing is easy for me because I’ve been doing it for so long and I have fun with it. But MMA is like a whole new thing of learning and seeing what my body can do.”
Shields attended the UFC 245 event in Las Vegas in December, when Amanda Nunes retained her bantamweight title with victory over Germaine de Randamie.
Shields has since publicly mentioned Nunes several times.
“You’re going to see me in there,” she said.
“I really don’t want any claims of anybody, or any woman fighter, ever being better than me because I feel like I’m that great. And if that’s what I’ve got to do to be that great, then I’m willing to do it.
“I just have a hunger to be great. I want to be the best combat woman athlete ever. And that’s being a great boxer and being a great fighter in MMA.”
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