Claressa Shields looked into her phone’s camera lens for eye contact, then raised her index finger.
As the undisputed women’s middleweight champion, she was just asked in a videoconference interview how long it would take to reach the same salary as certified male boxers. the same, similar.
“In a year,” she said.
To reach that milestone, you’ll have to beat Ema Kozin, an undefeated opponent from Slovenia, in a pay-per-view match in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday night. Shields’ match is the first in a two-way deal with British broadcaster Sky Sports that includes just over $1 million in guaranteed wages and will culminate in a showdown with Savannah Marshall, British boxer who was the only one to defeat Shields as an amateur.
Shields, 26, from Flint, Mich., says: “I’m going to make what those people make. Faster than we think. It was a great time. “
Just to be clear, “those guys” does not refer to Saúl Álvarez, the super-middleweight champion nicknamed Canelo, who is considered by many to be the top male boxer in the world. He is undoubtedly the highest paid boxer on the planet, earning a reported $40 million bail for a win in November against Caleb Plant.
But for Shields’ team, reaching or matching the salaries of male boxers who have done well but aren’t necessarily known to mainstream sports fans is a realistic goal. Last year, Jermell Charlo, the men’s super heavyweight champion, won a spot reported 3 million dollars to defend his title against Brian Castaño, with $1 million of that guaranteed. Victory over Kozin, 23, and Marshall, 30, are likely to put Shields in that pay bracket.
Shields promoter Dmitriy Salita said: “Claressa is the perfect athlete at the right time to take women’s boxing to the next level. “Claressa will receive rewards commensurate with the success of her events.”
For Shields and her management team, that moment refers to her growth from a teenager who won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, to a champion that won again at the 2016 Olympics. , to an undefeated professional with world titles in two weight classes.
Seen through the lens of wins, losses and championships, Shields’ career was marked by steady, linear progress that, according to Salita, would give a boxer a higher salary, regardless of gender. count.
But Shields, who is winning 11-0 with two professional knockdowns, hasn’t had the constant broadcast partnerships that often build standout boxers into stars. Most of Shields’ matches have appeared on Showtime – she turned pro online in November 2016 and two of her last three games have also aired there. But she has also competed on HBO and the sports streaming service DAZN.
Shields’ most recent game, a unanimous decision win over Marie-Eve Dicaire of Canada in March 2021, refers to an independent pay-per-view card staged by Salita’s advertising agency.
Since then, Shields has competed in mixed martial arts, drawn 1-1 in two fights with the Professional Fighters League, and helped produce a feature film about her life. Shields said the detour into MMA has improved her boxing by enhancing her overall strength and that her side projects will grow her profile.
“All of that is bringing fans back to my boxing,” she said.
Shields’ fight deal with Sky Sports is underway as female boxers gain more and more money and attention from the sport.
Last week, Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor announced they would meet on April 30 for the main event at Madison Square Garden, marking the first time the two women will be playing cards at the Garden’s main arena. Event promoter Eddie Hearn, president of Matchroom Boxing, says each boxer is guaranteed at least $1 million – and he has a simple explanation for the change in pay scale for female boxers excellence.
“That’s the need,” Hearn said. “That’s the only reason why the increased amount is put into a fight or a sport. Sponsors want to participate in women’s sport. They want to participate in events that will attract many eyeballs.”
Hearn said the fight between Serrano and Taylor would be the biggest women’s boxing match in history; Salita said the honor goes to Shields and Marshall, whenever they meet. In 2012, Marshall and Shields played as amateurs, and Marshall won 14-8 according to the amateur scoring system used on the computer. Shields hasn’t lost a boxing match since.
Public demand for a rematch depends in part on Marshall winning her next match, scheduled for March 12 against Belgium’s Femke Hermans.
“Claressa was on my radar. It is within touching distance,” Marshall told reporters earlier this week.
The match revolved around Shields sending out Kozin, who has scored 11 knockouts in 21 professional wins. Like Marshall, Kozin is a male employee who believes she can dethrone Shields.
“I don’t feel pressured for who she is,” Kozin told reporters in January. “I see it as a great opportunity, not a burden.”
Shields, for her part, said the prospect of a high-stakes, big-money showdown with Marshall wouldn’t distract her from the Kozin fight.
“I’m focusing on who’s in front of me,” Shields said. “Marshall and her team are focused on me.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/sports/claressa-shields-ema-kozin-fight.html Claressa Shields is a champion. Now she can finally get paid like one.