Claressa Shields told ESPN's Myron Medcalf in a radio interview that she is willing to fight Laila Ali and vowed to knock her out if they get into the ring.
Shields, the unbeaten three-division world champion and the face of women's boxing in the United States, was responding to comments made by Ali on Friday in an appearance on ESPN's First Take. Ali said she would entertain the possibility of ending her more than decade in retirement to fight Shields. Mark Taffet, Shields' manager, had told ESPN's Dan Rafael that he has talked to Ali's team in recent weeks about the prospect of a fight.
"Absolutely. I have no problem with that," Shields said when asked if she was willing to fight Ali. "I feel like I'm the greatest woman of all time. I cannot be beat, not by a champion right now, a former world champion, a champion who's bigger, stronger, faster, whatever you want to say. All these fighters have to prove it to me. And when she gets inside the ring, I have a game plan for everybody who I step in the ring with. And the fact that she's going to bring out that 100% in me, you're going to see a whole different Claressa Shields. And it's going to be a war."
Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, said on First Take that Shields has been calling her out and said to return to the ring she has "to be inspired by the opponent. I have to be inspired by the purse, because I have multiple things going on, multiple streams of income. I don't need to do it. I have to want to do it."
Shields, 24, said she believes Ali is using her age as an excuse.
"Let's not talk about age. You can't say in one sentence, 'Oh, I'm gonna knock Claressa Shields out, I'm a better fighter, I'm gonna come out of retirement and I'm gonna do this, but I've been retired 13 years.' Take the 13 years out of it, or you can't say, 'but I'm 42.' She's making excuses already. 'Oh I've been retired 13 years. Oh, I'm 42,'" Shields said. "If you really feel like you're the baddest, you're either going to come out of retirement and beat me at the age you're at, or you're going to leave boxing alone."
The 42-year-old Ali (24-0, 21 KOs) has not fought since retaining her super middleweight world title by first-round knockout of Gwendolyn O'Neil in February 2007 -- when Shields was 12. Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) is the undisputed women's middleweight world champion and a unified junior middleweight titleholder. Shields previously unified belts at super middleweight, the division Ali was a champion in during her 1999 to 2007 career.
Shields said she doesn't believe Ali believes she can beat her and said she would knock Ali out by the ninth or 10th round if the two fought.
"I say that because I'm gonna have to cook her a little bit," Shields said. "I think the first couple of rounds will be a war. We go back and forth, she'll use her size, she'll lay on me, she'll throw her right hand, she'll bounce around and use her jab. But I feel like she's kind of flat, you know? She can bounce, but she doesn't have that slickness. She can't move like her father. I can move like her dad. I can slip, I can counter, I've got a really great jab, and I know I'm way faster than her.
"So I think it'll be a war in the early rounds, but then when I start wearing her down and punching her real, real hard to the body, she's gonna quit."