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If both win in Atlantic City, is Claressa Shields v. Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa a possibility?

It has been said that a heated rivalry can help sell a fight. While having respect for one another is refreshing, there is nothing better than some drama to build a competitive bout. In boxing, competitive men’s boxing sometimes relies on that. When it comes to women’s boxing, however, they use their hands to get their message across.

What happens, however, when you have two commodities who are willing to change it up? In the end, a bout between Claressa Shields and Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa could be the fight women’s boxing needs.

Both Shields (9-0) and Napoleon (12-1) will be fighting in Atlantic City on January 10 inside the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Shields will be facing Ivana Habazin in a heated bout for the vacant WBC and WBO Light Middleweight Titles while Napoleon will face Elin Cederroos, both fighting for the WBO and IBF Super-Middleweight Titles. Opening up for Shields, Napoleon has a chance to prove to many on Showtime she has what it takes to face the two-time Olympic medalist.

Showtime even stated that if both fighters win they will fight to unify the division.

Shields, the reigning undisputed women’s middleweight champion, is going for a belt in a third weight class. At 24, Shields’ power and gift of gab have become well-known around the world. She has also openly advocated for higher pay and equal time for women in boxing. Napoleon, a veteran of the game and someone who has also been active in hoping for equality, is looking to be the one to finally shut her up. How do you create a true rivalry? Via Twitter, of course. Shields isn’t one to mince her words, so Napoleon responded to claims by Shields that she’s afraid of a fight.

Of course Shields responded, in a way only she could (the tweet has since been deleted):

I will back hand the sh*t out of you in person. So you better run off and take some more pics. When I seen you in person you look straight at the ground coward. @MarkTaffetMedia See what I’m talkin about, attention seeking.”

If you need a better explanation as to who Alicia Napoleon is, the Lindenhurst, New York native competed in the Best Fight You Never Saw back in August of 2018 against Hannah Rankin. Shields also faced Rankin back in November of 2018, beating her via unanimous decision.

Napoleon has mentioned that she is willing to move down eight pounds to battle Shields. While Shields is looking for big money fights like Katie Taylor/Amanda Serrano, Cecilia Brækhus and even MMA’s Amanda Nunes, Napoleon is a true obstacle that stands in her way. A great way to prove you are the best is by competing against title owners within the division. Napoleon is a threat that could squander Shields’ dreams for glory. Will the fight actually come to fruition?

Both are expected to appear at a press conference in New York City this week. Shields will have her mind on Habazin following their initial bout getting canceled after the latter’s trainer was attacked. Will Napoleon be able to stir the pot, even while focusing on her opponent? As we’ve seen from some of the best rivalries in MMA and boxing, planting the seed, even in the smallest of ways, can result in the biggest of results.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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