BOXING

Boxing star Claressa Shields inks multiyear MMA deal with PFL

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Claressa Shields, widely considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound female boxer on the planet, is going back to MMA in 2024.

Shields, 28, has signed a new multiyear deal to compete in MMA for the PFL, the fighter and organization jointly announced Tuesday. The undisputed middleweight boxing champion debuted in PFL in 2021 and went 1-1 in two appearances.

“I am excited to return to a fighter-first organization and I can’t wait to return to the PFL SmartCage,” Shields said in a released statement. “My goal remains unchanged. I will be the first athlete to hold championships in boxing and MMA simultaneously. I have grown so much since my first MMA fight and cannot wait to put my skills on display.”

Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Claressa Shields

Shields won her MMA debut by TKO after following her opponent to the ground and finishing her with strikes there. She lost her second appearance by split decision. After the two-fight jump to MMA, Shields returned to the ring and defended her middleweight titles three times in 16 months. ESPN ranks Shields (14-0, 2 KOs) the best female boxer on the planet.

The PFL has been aggressively signing traditional and nontraditional talent in recent years, including everything from former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to professional boxer/social media influencer Jake Paul, and PFL president Ray Sefo recently confirmed talks are ongoing regarding a potential merger with or acquisition of Bellator MMA. The PFL consists primarily of a regular season plus playoffs format but is in the process of expanding into pay-per-view.

“It is a privilege to announce the PFL has re-signed the most dominant women’s boxer in the world, Claressa Shields, to a new multi-year agreement,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said. “Claressa and the PFL share a fighter-first, merit-based value system and take on the world attitude. We are proud to welcome ‘The GWOAT’ back to the PFL and the sport of MMA.”

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