03
Dec
2020

Male and female boxer comparisons MUST be kept separate – here’s why

Phil Jay 12/01/2020
Claressa Shields Vasyl Lomachenko boxer

đź“· Stephanie Trapp / Mark Robinson

A massive achievement for boxer Claressa Shields on Friday night in her victory over Ivana Habazin, was – of course, greeted by her promoters, handlers, and TV network as breaking new ground.

As stated, Shields did indeed become the fastest BOXER of all time to win a world title in three different weight classes.

But here’s where the problem lies.

Mentioning Vasyl Lomachenko in the same sentence is pretty much putting the women’s side of the sport in the same competitive bracket as the men’s. This cannot be done – at least not yet.

Expecting a wave of sexism claims, writing this article came with some trepidation, although it needs to be said for one reason only.

Firstly, just look at the numbers.

According to statistics, there are 53 women’s boxers competing in the super welterweight division where Shields just claimed her latest straps. Compare this to over TWO THOUSAND in the lightweight division where Lomachenko competes. Any comparisons to those feats are merely astounding.

The strength and depth of the men’s divisions are reasons alone to refrain from any such name-dropping. Competition for rankings places is FORTY TIMES as fierce.

In the women’s side of the sport, most divisions have around ONE HUNDRED competitors or less. Of which, thirty or forty are genuine contenders. Therefore, a world title shot can be earned after around two or three decent victories.

Yes, Lomachenko did this – but he is an anomaly of our sport. The man is simply on another level.

The playing field for Shields or Katie Taylor for that matter, which is entirely nothing to do with them, is far more lopsided.

This is not just segregated to outstanding fighters like Lomachenko or Shields, who would get to the top anyway due to their skillset.

It comes down to the fact that women of any decent talent above no-hoper will probably get a world title shot at some point in their lifetime. This is not their fault, it’s just down to the depth of boxing opposition available.

Promoters and networks will continue to promote record-breaking achievements in the female ranks to sell their shows. But we have to refrain from lessening those achievements on the men’s side. It’s a much tougher climb to the summit for the vast majority of male boxers.

There’s a way to do things. Comparing Shields to Lomachenko is not the way to go. And not fair to either fighter.


LOSING RECORDS

A prime example of this comes in the heavyweight division. The women’s ranks have just 21 top division boxers.

Claire Hafner was 3-2 and ranked number four in the world at 200 pounds plus. She fought for a world title last October.

There are plenty of other examples of boxers with LOSING records being given world title shots over the past two years. Until this kind of thing is eradicated from women’s boxing, there is simply no comparison to make.

I struggle to recall any example in recent memory where this happened for a men’s world title – even a ‘regular’ one.

Again, it’s no fault of the fighter themselves. It’s merely a promotional push to drive their star as the best around.

Shields is awesome and I’m a big fan of hers, so let’s give her achievements the recognition they deserve in a standalone capacity without adding the pressure of her being hailed the equivalent women’s Matrix.

There’s only one Claressa Shields. So putting her alongside Loma isn’t helpful to anyone.

Those stating the ‘GWOAT’ has ‘beaten Lomachenko’s record’ are taking things a step too far.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay