Laila Ali And Boxer Claressa Shields Continue To Exchange Fighting Words: ‘I’m An Ali, Let’s Not Forget That’
The two fighters have been calling each other out for months.
Laila Ali was talking tough on First Take Friday morning, telling host Stephen A. Smith that she would fight the current champion, Claressa Shields, if the money is right.
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The retired champion said Shields has been calling her out for months after taking offense to comments she's made.
"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. I have multiple streams of income. I don't need to do it. I have to want to do it," Ali said, adding that it was Shields' mouth that was inspiring her to come back.
"When it's personal, that starts a fire. When the money is right and it makes sense, why not? I'm an Ali, let's not forget that," Ali told Smith.
"I love boxing. I always have," Ali told Smith during the interview which took place at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, ahead of Saturday night's heavyweight world championship rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
"Boxing has inspired my Laila Ali lifestyle brand. I've been outside of the boxing gym but I've been 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. And have I been sitting around thinking about boxing? No. But lately, there's been a little chatter," Ali added.
On Twitter, Shields responded to Ali's comments, egging her on to accept the offer to fight.
On God sis! Cause i’m gonna walk thru Laila Ali! I’m gonna hurt her! I’m tired of the talking and her hating! FIGHT ME! I’m gonna show her why they call me the GWOAT ! Let’s go! https://t.co/XFmrGUrxR7— ClaressaT-rexShields (@Claressashields) February 21, 2020
The 42-yer-old hasn't boxed in over a decade but finished her decorated career with an undefeated 24-0 record in 2007. Although Ali said she is open to the possibility of coming out of retirement to fight Shields, she noted that no female boxer has ever been paid more than $1 million.
She told Smith that the promoter would need to pay her handsomely because she "brings the star power."
Shields and Ali have been going at each other in the media for months, both claiming they could knock each other out. In January, Shields said that Ali is "all bark, no bite" in an interview with TMZ Sports.
"Look, if a girl calls me out, I answer and I go and fight whoever it is. From Christina Hammer who was 24-0, just like Laila Ali, I went out there and destroyed her. Laila may think that she's big and she bad and all that stuff, but when it comes to boxing, there is no woman on this earth that can beat me. If she wants to fight, I'm all there for it," Shields said.
"We can fight at 168. She said she's 200 pounds right now. I'll give her a year, a year to get ready, and since I'm so easy to beat, the loser gets $5 million, winner gets $10 million. I'm going to go home with $10 million, a freaking multi-millionaire. I'm not going to lose," Shields added.
The current champion went on to say that even if she beat Ali, critics would say she only won because Ali is older. However, Shields said she was offended by Ali's continued insistence that she could knock her out easily.
"They're not going to say that I beat Laila Ali when she was at her best. But overall, the way she's talking if she's like she's going to knock me out, please...my defense is too good for her," Shields said.
Shields' interview came after Ali appeared on Sway in the Morning a week before. The retired boxer said she could knock out Shields even after being out of the ring for more than a decade. Ali said she took offense to Shields calling herself the greatest woman fighter of all time.
"It's flattering. You look up to my father. We both thought that was cute, that was sweet. But at the same time...first of all, she could never beat me. Let me just get that really straight right now. We're not even in the same weight class. I know that she walked around heavier, but that would not happen. And not simply because she's not strong enough — because I would definitely knock her out — but because she's not talented enough. You're talented, you can box. You can throw those hard punches, but there's a sweet science to boxing. The reason why you have not been able to knock out the opponents that you have already faced, I can totally see it why," Ali said in the interview.
Shields is 10-0 in her fights but only has two knockouts compared to Ali, who managed to get 21 knockouts through her 24 fights.
Earlier this year, Shields won her fight against Ivana Habazin, becoming the fastest male or female boxer to secure world championships in three different divisions. She now holds title belts in the women's middleweight, unified junior middleweight and super middleweight divisions. Shields also won Olympic gold medals in both 2012 and 2016.