• Claressa Shields is carefully planning her shift from boxing to mixed martial arts
  • Shields is confident she can emulate the success of Holly Holm
  • She will defend her boxing titles first before making her MMA debut in Q2

Claressa Shields knows that time is not on her side as she makes the challenging jump from boxing to the mixed martial arts scene. Regardless, the 25-year-old remains motivated as a forgettable 2020 comes to a close.

The three-division world champion caught most off guard when she announced her plans to make the shift to the mixed martial arts circuit. But it appears it is a challenge that she is ready to take on despite several former boxers jumping but failing to make their mark in the cage.

Among the former boxers who made the jump, Holly Holm was one of the big success stories, while James Toney was not as fortunate. Shields weighed in on her quest in an interview with MMA Fighting.

“Like they say look at James Toney and I kind of laugh cause James Toney was 42 years old. I’m 25. He was also 42 years old and he went in there, I don’t know how long he prepared but he fought against one of the best guys that they had. It’s like not that I wouldn’t do that but I’m preparing. I’m taking it one step at a time,” Shields stated.

It will be a busy few months before Shields makes her MMA debut. She still plans to defend her junior middleweight titles in February before diverting her focus to mixed martial arts.

“We already have a deadline for that,” Shields said. “That’s why I’m already working now and learning right now. I’m looking forward to fighting in May-June next year, my MMA pro debut.”

Aware that she cannot rush into things despite being aware that she stands to earn more money than traditional boxing, Shields will not join the Professional Fighters League (PFL) season until 2022. The two-time Olympic gold medalist knows that it will not be an easy way to the top and revealed plans to have some one-off nights until she is ready to face the best fighters in the PFL.

“The PFL is all about controlling your own destiny,” Shields explained. “So if me and Kayla Harrison is in the same tournament, if we’re in the same season and we both have to fight our way to the top. So who knows who I’ll be fighting against. It may be Kayla, it may not who’ll be in the finals. Cause I envision myself being able to make it to the finals in 2022.”

Claressa Shields
Claressa Shields Getty Images | Steven Ferdman