Claressa Shields opens up on love, boxing and MMA

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 27: Claressa Shields poses for a portrait before a workout at Downtown Boxing Gym on July 27, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 27: Claressa Shields poses for a portrait before a workout at Downtown Boxing Gym on July 27, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Claressa Shields is on the road for arguably the biggest fight in her career on Sept.10 against Savanah Marshall, but plenty is happening in her life.

Claressa Shields is known as boxing’s ‘GWOAT’ and started her MMA takeover, but combat sports is only one part of Shields’s life. Her personal life is the other, and she likes to keep them separate.

During the height of the pandemic two years ago, Shields’ personal life changed for the better in a meteoric way. Love found her when she least expected it.

The pandemic kept Shields out of the ring, and staying active became challenging. It’s something that most people in the world can relate to.

Most public places were closed, including gyms. Boxing bouts were hard to come by, and Shields was out of the ring for a time. She still founds ways to train, but it wasn’t the same.

As isolation set in, Shields found herself out of shape by her standards.

“I was just kind of like worried about my fitness because I had gained quarantine weight like everybody else,” Shields said to FanSided. “I was almost 200 pounds. So it was like, hey, we can’t get to the three digits, you know, to the 200s. So I just started going to the gym. It was a black-owned gym. A lot was going on with the Black Lives Matter and everything. So I wanted to go to a black-owned gym. And that’s where I went to him. He’s the owner there.”

When gyms started to open, Shields made her way to a new spot, At Fitness Gym, where she met him, owner Tony Richardson.

Watch Claressa Shields vs. Savannah Marshall for the undisputed middleweight title on Saturday, Sept. 10, on ESPN+

Richardson helped Shields with her fitness at the gym, but Shields was so focused on putting in work that she didn’t realize the chemistry she had with Richardson at first.

“But we didn’t really, like, I wasn’t thinking about him at the gym,” Shields said, “Like when I go to the gym, I train. I work out.”

Shields stayed concentrated on her career at the gym but let her hair down when she went out to the club with a group of friends from the gym, including Richardson. There, she started to see Richardson in a different light.

“After a month, I think the whole like At Fitness crew, we all went out to this club,” Shields recalled. “And we were all just like, I kicked everybody a** in pool because I played pool real good. And we were on a team. And that’s when we discovered like that it was like a connection or something there, but we were friends at first.”

Not many people discover the beginnings of love during a pool game, but love usually strikes when we least expect it. Shields and Richardson became an official item on July 24, 2020.

Shields and Richardson recently celebrated their two-year dating anniversary, but she’s proud to call him her fiancé today.

Richardson still works out with Shields from time to time, but Shields likes to keep her professional and love lives separate to a degree.

“He does give me workouts, and he knows the body pretty well,” Shields said. “And gives me workouts and stuff, so we can kind of like, mingle there, but it’s really like, we try to keep it separate, but it kind of just go together.”

Shields told FanSided that she and Richardson are looking to wed sometime at the beginning of 2024, but boxing is her immediate priority, specifically Savannah Marshall.

They clash on Saturday, Sep. 10, at the O2 Arena, in London, England. Marshall enjoys the home country advantage being from Hartlepool, England, but Shields doesn’t seem too concerned about that.

Shields believes that she doesn’t need to worry about falling victim to a hometown decision because she’s convinced Marshall isn’t going to see the final bell.

“I’m going to catch her because she has too many flaws,” Shields said. “And she doesn’t respect my power. So when you don’t respect somebody’s power, you don’t really be paying attention. But she does a lot in her game that is going to cause her to get hit and get hit with a big shot. So this fight we’re already kind of clicked on to this fight isn’t going 10 rounds. It’s going to be a knockout.”

As for plans after the Marshall fight, Shields anticipates refocusing on MMA. Shields is signed to the PFL and is 1-1 as a budding MMA fighter, but expect to see her in the cage before the end of 2022.

“Yeah, I’m doing a PFL tournament next year. Well, the PFL season,” Shields said. “I have an MMA fight at the end of the year. That’s why this fight being in September, was really a no go for me because I want to spend that time getting ready for my MMA fight by the end of the year.”

Shields has a clear plan of where she wants to be as a combat sports athlete, but having love and support from Richardson can only help. Life is a balancing act for everyone, but Shields seems to have it all figured out as she continues to make history in the boxing ring and MMA cage.

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