By Keith Idec
Dmitriy Salita respects Katie Taylor and everything she has accomplished in just 13 professional fights.
Salita still disagrees with how Taylor’s promoter has characterized Taylor’s place in the history of women’s boxing. Eddie Hearn declared earlier this week that Taylor is the best female fighter to ever box, a distinction Salita is certain belongs to the undefeated, unified middleweight champion his company promotes.
“Katie Taylor is great, but she’s not the greatest,” Salita told BoxingScene.com. “The greatest is Claressa Shields. And she has proven it over and over again. She proved it early on, from being a two-time Olympic gold medalist and obviously doing incredible things as a professional. Just as an example, she beat Franchon Crews in her pro debut, who is the current WBC super middleweight world champion. This takes nothing away from Katie Taylor. She’s a great fighter and a great lady. But don’t get it twisted, Claressa Shields is the greatest women’s fighter of all time.”
Taylor intends to join Shields and welterweight Cecilia Braekhus on Saturday night as the only undisputed champions in women’s boxing history. The 32-year-old Taylor (13-0, 6 KOs), a 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Bray, Ireland, and 34-year-old Delfine Persoon (34-1, 18 KOs), of Roeselare, Belgium, are set to fight for Taylor’s IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles and Persoon’s WBC 135-pound championship on the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz undercard at Madison Square Garden (DAZN).
The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, added the WBO middleweight title to her IBF, WBA and WBC championships last month. Shields defeated Germany’s Christina Hammer (24-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) by unanimous decision in their 10-round, 160-pound title unification match April 13 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The outspoken Shields also has attracted a lot of mainstream media attention during the extremely strong start to a pro career that began in November 2016.
“Again,” Salita explained, “not to take anything away from Katie Taylor, because she’s a great fighter – but one of the reasons she’s getting so much exposure in the United States is really because Claressa Shields opened those doors by becoming the first woman in a main event on Showtime and by being so exciting and drawing the [television] ratings she has drawn. She has really raised women’s boxing to the next level. She continues to do so and we’re gonna have some exciting news in the next couple weeks, which is gonna represent something historic. It’s an exciting time for women’s boxing and it’s an exciting time for Claressa.”
England’s Hearn also expressed respect for Shields as he praised Taylor.
“I love Claressa,” Hearn said, “but for me Katie Taylor is the best female fighter of all time. Claressa Shields is also amazing, but Katie is my girl and I just think she’s amazing.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.