Claressa Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) will continue her quest to stamp her name all over boxing's record books on Friday night when she takes on Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-0, 0 KOs) in a women's junior-middleweight unification fight. She'll also be looking to prove she is the type of fighter who can draw in fans as a headliner after a long, frustrating battle to get back into the ring.
Shields and Dicaire are the main event of an all-female pay-per-view card at the Dort Federal Events Center in Shields' hometown of Flint, Michigan. The undefeated 25-year-old holds the WBC and WBO junior-middleweight titles, while Dicaire is the IBF champion (the winner will also take hold of the WBA belt).
Shields already unified the middleweight titles when she beat Christina Hammer in April 2019. She's on the cusp of unifying another division in just her 11th pro fight.
Dicaire, an undefeated southpaw, doesn't have the name recognition of Shields, but she's no slouch. Ring Magazine rates her as the second-best fighter in the junior-middleweight division behind Shields. There's no one better to try to pull off an upset on a big night for women's boxing.
Shields vs. Dicaire Fight Info
When: Friday, Mar. 5 at 9 p.m. ET (main card)
Where: Dort Federal Events Center in Flint, Michigan
How to Watch: FITE.TV streaming pay-per-view ($29.99), pay-per-view via cable and satellite TV providers ($29.99)
Claressa Shields (-750)
Marie-Eve Dicaire (+500)
(via Sports Betting Dime)
Despite her obvious talent and pedigree—a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a three-division world champion—Shields had a remarkably tough time getting this fight made after it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
According to ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, negotiations with Showtime stalled out over the course of several months after the initial cancellation, so Shields, manager Mark Taffet and her promoter Dimitry Salita finally decided to put together their own pugilistic venture:
"There are no metrics for this. What Shields, promoter Dimitry Salita and Taffet are attempting has not been done before. An all-women's card on pay-per-view headlined by two undefeated title holders, including arguably the biggest name in women's boxing.
"It's something they believe should be intriguing to a wider audience. Something they are willing to do because of Taffet and Salita's belief in Shields."
Shields certainly has talent and drive worth believing in. She's faced every challenge in her career head-on and has succeeded every step of the way. She's also willing to go beyond boxing to make her dreams come true. In order to pay the bills and keep in shape as she waited to line up the unification fight, Shields turned to personal training, per the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez.
"I would train like six or seven people a day," she said, per Hernandez. "I did that for a month or two."
Shields is also working on making the transition to mixed martial arts, per Rothstein, and is set to fight in that sport later this year. It will be interesting to see how far Shields can go in MMA, considering the sport generally has more high-profile female athletes than boxing, but for right now, her focus has to remain on the sweet science.
Dicaire, 34, is well aware of how big of an opportunity this is for her. She's not the big draw on Friday night, but she's bringing a wealth of experience and tenacity to this bout. The way Dicaire sees it, being overlooked sometimes has its perks.
"I am so comfortable as the underdog," Dicaire said, per Ring's Jamie Rebner. "When I was a kid and someone would dare me to do something, that gave me so much courage, drive, and fuel to accomplish it. To beat the odds brings me back to that situation."
Both Shields and Dicaire might have to contend with ring rust on Friday night. Shields last fought in January 2020, earning a decision win over Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBC and WBO titles. Dicaire has spent even more time on the shelf. Her last fight was a decision win over Ogleidis Suarez in November 2019 back in her native Canada.
In the end, Shields is younger, with a better resume, more power, and in some ways, more on the line. Look for her to get the win on Friday night.
Prediction: Shields wins by decision