After a 13-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Claressa Shields will return to the ring in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Shields will face off against Marie-Eve Dicaire for the undisputed super welterweight title. If victorious, Shields will become the first woman to earn undisputed titles in two different weight classes. However, Shields cannot look ahead and dismiss her opponent, Dicaire. Coming into the ring with an undefeated record of 17-0, Diciare has little to lose and everything to gain by beating the heavily favored Shields.
“I love challenges, and I always said that I wanted to be the best, and to do that, you have to go through fights like this. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Since I was a kid, I dreamed of an opportunity like this to show my skills, talent, and passion for my sport. And now that I have this opportunity, I want to seize it," she told Ring TV.
As Shields makes her return, there are a number of things she'll need to be prepared for. From Dicaire's slippery style to her leading right hand, here are a few things that Shields can take and use to her advantage on March.
How To Watch
Date: Friday, March 5
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Flint, Michigan
Main Event: 11:30 p.m. ET
Network: Fite.TV (Pay-Per-View)
Tale Of The Tape
Reach: 68 inches
Knockouts: 2 KOs
Knockouts: 0 KOs
Keys To Victory
Play To The Crowd
Given the nation's current health crisis, it is unclear how many spectators will be present at the Dort Federal Event Center. If there are ten fans or a thousand fans in attendance, Shields will be best served to energize the crowd from the moment she walks to the crowd. Despite her opponent's 17-fight resume, she has no experience fighting outside of Canada. Michigan may border on Canada, but there is a huge difference between fighting in front of friends and family in Montreal and battling against the world's best in her hometown.
Let Her Come To You
If there is one thing Dicaire does well, it is move around the ring with ease. As shown in her bouts against Chris Namus and Mikaela Lauren, the IBF champion loves to use her right hand to draw opponents in before making them miss and turning them around. For Shields need to be successful, she may need to draw Dicaire toward her and make her miss. With that said, Lauren and Namus are great fighters that may not be on the same level as Claressa Shields. If there is one person that may be able to play Dicaire's game and beat her at it, it would be Shields. Not to mention, Turner was able to tag Dicaire a few times in that fight. Using her power, the Flint native may be able to take Dicaire out with a right hook like Turner tried to do in her bout against the IBF champion.
Similar to her bout against Christina Hammer, Shields will share the ring with someone who does not know how to lose. After 17 victories, Dicaire is looking at Shields as her equal, not someone to fear. That level of confidence is also tough to deal with regardless of talent level. To keep Dicaire at bay, Shields needs to be consistent throughout the fight. At no point can she let Dicaire think that she can win the fight. Any glimmer of hope will be a boost to an undefeated fighter who is traveling to Michigan with hopes of shocking the world.
Stay Out Of Your Head
Shields has been preparing for this fight for nearly a year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and reported business disputes have stymied the fights. After a year of hard work, it would be easy for someone to overthink everything that you're doing. Coming off a yearlong layoff, it'll be important for the Flint native to remain loose, calm and rely on her instincts in this fight.
Prediction: Claressa Shields def. Marie-Eve Dicaire (UD - 99-91, 98-92, 98-92)
Marie-Eve Dicaire poses a threat to Claressa Shields just like Hanna Gabriels and Christina Hammer did. She's experienced, confident and ready to fight. With that said, Shields is to strong, tactical and fast for Dicaire. It is hard to predict a knockout in a fight with two talented fighters given the rules of women's boxing. In comparison to men's boxing, there are two fewer rounds and each round is a minute shorter. For these reasons, it's typically difficult for someone to get knocked out. However, I do expect Shields to be dominant and win eight or nine rounds. It is clear that Shields is the best fighter in women's boxing and her future is bright. With a Barry Jenkins directed biopic in the works and a mixed martial arts debut looming, it's on her not to look ahead and stay focused. In all of her public appearances over the last year, she's appeared focused on the task at hands and ready to fight. For all of those reasons and more, Shields should come out on top on March 5.
Photo Credit: Getty Images