When PFL 4 goes down in Atlantic City, NJ this Thursday night, it will bring with it the debut of boxing champ Claressa Shields.
Shields (11-0 boxing, 0-0 MMA) is one of the most decorated female athletes in boxing’s history. What she isn’t is one of the highest paid. With more money to be found in MMA, where women stand on more equal footing with male athletes than in other pursuits, she’s making the switch. And also looking to challenge herself.
“After accomplishing all that I’ve accomplished in boxing, I have a great resume,” Shields noted during Monday’s PFL 4 media day, featuring Shields and opponent Brittney Elkin. And, she added, “the men in boxing have a million dollars, and I don’t have a million dollars. So that’s kind of what made my transition to MMA. Because I feel like I’m a hard worker, I learn things fast, and I’m super-ambitious and super-determined. I felt like if I put that same amount of time in MMA, possibly I could be as successful as I was in boxing in MMA.”
A two-time gold medalist at the Olympics, the current WBC and WBO female light middleweight champion, as well as the IBF, WBA (Super) and The Ring female light middleweight champ, Shields has linked up with famed gym Jackson-Wink MMA ahead of her in-cage debut. That’s allowed her to pick the brains of the likes Holly Holm and Jon Jones. Some of MMA’s best.
Still, switching between sports is never easy. But Shields didn’t take kindly to being asked what would happen if things didn’t go her way on Thursday.
“I don’t know why it wouldn’t go my way. See, that’s the thing. I don’t like questions like that. I’m a winner, right? So I think about winning,” responded Shields. “So right now of course the big goal and the big picture is to be MMA champ and [boxing] world champ at the same time. But I’m not a person who thinks about losing. With that, I’m going to take it one fight at a time, and just go from there. It’s about me getting the experience, but when it’s time to join the PFL season, I can be prepared for those top girls and those girls who are there.”
Right now, however, her main focus is Elkin, Shields added. She later told Cageside Press that she plans to show she’s more than just a boxer.
“For me, I think it’s important. It’s MMA, right? I’m of course going to let my hands go, because that’s what I’m known for and that’s what I know best,” stated Shields. “But I feel like I’ve got comfortable with putting a few different things together to make my game plan be a little bit more complex that for it to be just ‘oh, we just have to worry about her boxing.’ I’ve got some other things up my sleeve for Brittney just besides the boxing, but you guys can find that out on Thursday.”
Watch the full PFL 4 media day with Claressa Shields and Brittney Elkin above. PFL 4 takes place Thursday, June 10 in Atlantic City, NJ. The card airs live on ESPN+ and ESPN 2.