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Katie Taylor beaten to the punch as top US Olympic star handed historic opportunity

Rio gold medallist Claressa Shields will become the first woman to headline a premium cable card.

Claressa Shields (file pic).
Claressa Shields (file pic).
Image: John Locher

WHILE MANY PEOPLE have recently suggested that Ireland’s Katie Taylor can take women’s professional boxing to the next level, she is by no means the only star involved in the sport.

Like Taylor, US boxer Claressa Shields similarly decided to turn pro after Rio.

The double Olympic gold medallist, who was also trained by Taylor’s former coach Billy Walsh in the lead up to the 2016 Games, is set for a historic night.

It’s been confirmed that Shields will be involved in the first women’s boxing match to achieve main-event status on premium TV (i.e. channels such as Showtime, which require viewers to pay an additional fee on top of what is already being paid for cable) in the US.

Shields — who had a famously fiery but ultimately successful working relationship with Walsh — faces Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados at Detroit’s MGM Grand on 10 March.

It is quite an achievement for the 21-year-old from Flint, Michigan, in what is only her second fight as a pro.

Following the news, Shields said via her Instagram: “The NABF (North American Boxing Federation) was one of the first titles that the great Muhammad Ali fought for and won after his 1960 win at the Olympic Games!!!! To be given the opportunity to follow in his footsteps is an honour! And I’ll continue to carry his legacy!”

In addition, just under a month after Shields’ landmark evening, Taylor is set for the third fight of her pro career on the David Haye-Tony Bellew undercard on 4 March.

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Paul Fennessy

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