From All Sports Everything guest blogger Cyan Night:
Women have been traditionally discouraged from professional sports for a variety of reasons – from the severe pay discrimination, the constant mockery of a female athlete’s physique and the endless taunts of ‘you are never going to be as good as a man in the same sport’. Women in combat sport have been fighting back hard for years. The year 2012 became a landmark year for boxing and mixed martial arts. Olympic female boxing was inaugurated when Claressa Shields claimed her first gold medal and in that same year Ronda Rousey became the first UFC female titleholder. From thereon, women fighters continue punching hard at this impossible opponent called misogyny.
Last year proved to be another fruitful year for female combatants. Shields became the first women to headline a USA premium pay TV boxing event on March 10th when she won her first professional title. She proceeded that same year to win a world title by the WBC in the middle weight division. In April 2017, Amanda Serrano became the first women to win world titles in five weight divisions. Her stupendous achievement was matched by Naoko Fujioka in December 2017 when the 42-year-old Japanese fighter won the WBO light flyweight title. That same year, UFC saw two new female divisions – featherweight and flyweight. The year finished off with a bang when Cris Cyborg, the dominant featherweight won via unanimous decision in the title fight with Holly Holm, former title holder of world championships in boxing and mixed martial arts.
This year kicks off with a clash between two prominent figures in women’s boxing. Claressa Shields meets Tori Nelson, the undefeated 41-year-old veteran for her first defense of the WBC and IBF female super middleweight titles. If you remain undecided about becoming a fan of women in combat sport, here are three reasons to consider tuning into the fight.
1. Young vs Old
With better health care and improvements in medical science, athletes are constantly re-defining a respectable retirement age. A 19-year age gap between two opponents in a championship fight is still rare. Shields made a dig at Nelson’s age in a recent interview, “Tori Nelson is an older woman. … She reminds me of my grandma a little bit. … I’ll give her to the seventh [round] to be respectful.” A comment like that would surely incite women athletes in their twilight years to tune in and watch Nelson teach her ‘grandchild’ a lesson. Regardless, a match between a 12-time world championship old timer versus the hot new gun will certainly be an interesting contrast in style, speed and resilience.
2. Cracking the Zero
Both fighters are currently undefeated. Nelson, like most athletes, is probably aiming to retire with no loss to her record. Shields, on the other hand, is clearly in the early days of blazing through what is likely to be a world class boxing career, and a loss so early will no doubt be demoralizing. There is the off chance the match will finish in a draw. However, given the aggressive style of Shields, it is likely the match will run full length.
3. The New Face of Women’s Boxing
Shields is considered to possess the inexplicable star quality, both inside and outside the ring. Aside from her impressive performance in combat sport, she is also a source of national pride for being the first (and so far only) American boxer to win an Olympic medal twice in a row. This is a time when MMA is seducing many boxers with its sizable purses, including the recent migration of Amanda Serrano who’s MMA debut is scheduled for March 2018. Shields remains staunchly loyal to the sport and for now she still presents herself in the world of boxing with infinite enthusiasm, vigor and drive.
Hosted at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, tonight’s main event will air on the SHObox series of fights aired by Showtime at 10PM/ET.
image via fightnewsasia.com