June 5, 2024

In 1891, Bob Fitzsimmons knocked out Nonpareil Dempsey to win the middleweight world title and six years later he stopped James J. Corbett to become the heavyweight champion of the world.


Almost a century later, Roy Jones Jr. outpointed Bernard Hopkins to claim the IBF middleweight crown and ten years later he would do the same to John Ruiz, to become just the second middleweight world champion to win a heavyweight world title.


Now, 127 years after Fitzsimmons achieved heavyweight gold, there is a new fighter hoping to become the emulate his success.


The self-proclaimed ‘GWOAT’, Claressa Shields carried her amateur success into the professional game by becoming the unified super-middleweight champion in just her fourth official contest, before dropping down to 160lbs the following year and outpointing Hanna Gabriels for the WBA and IBF middleweight titles.


Since then, Shields has established herself as a pound-for-pound superstar in the women’s game, even dropping down to super-welterweight to defeat Marie Eve Dicaire for the undisputed title in 2021 and then becoming undisputed at middleweight for a second time by overcoming an old rival in Savannah Marshall on away soil – Marshall being the only fighter to have defeated Shields in the amateurs.


To further cement her status as a legend of the women’s game, Shields has announced a shocking move to the heavyweight division, where she will take on WBC champion Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse in Detroit.


Speaking to Sky Sports, Shields promised to ‘bring that GWOAT energy’ and to continue ‘putting women’s boxing on the map’.


“This is a significant and unique fight where I am moving up two weight classes against a very tough champion in my quest to become world champion in my fourth weight division.


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“I plan to do what I do best: bring that GWOAT energy and continue putting women’s boxing on the map.


“I’m excited to bring another entertaining fight to Little Caesars Arena. Last time 12,000 fans filled the arena, and this time we’re going to lift the roof off the building.”


Quebec-born Lepage-Joanisse attempted to win the heavyweight title in just her fourth professional bout but was handed a first career defeat as she was knocked out by Alejandra Jimenez in the third-round.


Six-and-half years and three wins later, the 28-year-old Canadian got the opportunity again and this time did enough to earn a split-decision victory over Abril Argentina Vidal and pick up the vacant WBC belt. Ahead of her biggest challenge to date, Lepage-Joanisse appeared unphased by the prospect of facing the two-time Olympic gold medallist.


“It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s Claressa or someone else,”


“My life is all about challenges.”


The card will take place at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and July 27th and both the WBA interim and full WBO light-heavyweight titles will also be on the line, given the nature of how each sanctioning body recognises their respective 168lb+ divisions.


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