Laila Ali Hints Potential Comeback Against Three-Division World Champion Claressa Shields Fight
Boxing superstar Laila Ali, 42, confirmed rumors in a possible comeback for an highly anticipated bout between dominant two titans in the history of female boxing. On Friday (Feb. 21st), Ali joined the ESPN ‘First Take,’ crew to discuss if the decorated retired boxing star would entertain the possibility of exiting her more than decade in retirement to fight rising three-division World Champion, Claressa Shields.
During Ali’s visit to ‘First Take,’ at the MGM Grand the daughter of Muhammad Ali, was asked about the prospect of a return to boxing and about fighting Shields, with whom he had some back-and-forth with in the media over the past year or so.
“She’s been calling me out. She’s taken offense to some things I’ve said in the past that had nothing to do with her. And people are asking me: Would you come back? Well, I have to be inspired by the opponent. I have to be inspired by the purse, because I have multiple things going on, multiple streams of income. I don’t need to do it. I have to want to do it.”
"When it's personal … that starts a fire." pic.twitter.com/CdlPv1FVhA
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 21, 2020
“I love boxing. I always have. Boxing has inspired my Laila Ali lifestyle brand. I’ve been outside of the boxing gym but in the gym ever since I left. I got nutrition products. I got spice blends. I’m all about health and wellness, so I’m very healthy. So have I been sitting around thinking about boxing? No. But lately there’s been a little chatter.”
When asked if Shields would be worth coming out of retirement,
“Of course, especially (because of) that mouth. When it’s personal that starts a fire, right? And when the money’s right and it makes sense then why not?”
After the interview aired on ESPN, Shields, 24, who won the unified light middleweight championship in her most recent fight to become a world champion in a third weight division, to took to her Twitter to respond to Ali.
Shields adds more,
“Well come on then! Enough talking, let’s fight, make it big for women’s boxing.”
Well come on then ! enough talking, let’s fight, make it big for women’s boxing ? https://t.co/X766QbfgaP
— ClaressaT-rexShields (@Claressashields) February 21, 2020
Mark Taffet, Shields’ manager, told ESPN that he has talked to Ali’s team in recent weeks about the prospect of a fight.
“I’ve reached out to her team and have had some brief conversations, and I hope we have continued conversations because for the two athletes, and for women’s boxing, I think it would be a great event.”
Shields like Ali has been vocal about growing women’s boxing. The young rising boxing star said during her last victory in January,
“I want to grow women’s boxing. I want to have equal pay, equal opportunity.
As previously reported, Sheilds won Olympic middleweight gold at the age of 17 at London 2012 and retained her title four years later at the Rio Games. In 2017, Shields became the first woman to headline a boxing show on a premium network in the United States.
— ClaressaT-rexShields (@Claressashields) January 11, 2020
What are your thoughts on a Ali v. Shields match? Let us know in the comments!