The recent announcement that Cherneka Johnson will defend her International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior featherweight title against Ellie Scotney has left the team of Maureen Shea perplexed and looking for answers.
Shea (30-2-1, 13 knockouts), rated no. 2 by the IBF, and Scotney, rated no. 1, had been ordered by the IBF on February 7 to face off in an interim title fight, which Scotney’s promoter Matchroom Boxing proposed for April 29 in Sheffield, England.
Johnson suffered a major head gash during her most recent title defense against Susie Ramadan in October and was ruled unlikely to be ready to make a mandatory defense until at least June.
Shea and manager Luigi Olcese reached an agreement with Matchroom for the interim title fight. Shea’s team signed and returned the contracts to Matchroom on February 18, but the contracts were never executed by Matchroom and returned to the IBF before the deadline.
Now Shea is seeking justice after being pushed aside for a title opportunity that she has waited a long time for.
“This is bad for every female boxer out there. The IBF needs to step in. Matchroom did not negotiate in good faith or intend to make this fight. Matchroom’s economics should not dictate the opportunities to the sanctioning bodies,” said Shea, a native of The Bronx, N.Y. who now resides in Delray Beach, Fla.
As it stands, Johnson (15-1, 6 KOs) is expected to make her second defense of the belt against Scotney (6-0) on May 20 at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. Shea, who is also half Irish, believes she should be next in line at the winner after being unfairly skipped over.
“Maureen should get an immediate shot at whoever wins this fight. We should get that in writing because we negotiated in good faith. We could have moved in a different direction but we didn’t. We passed over an opportunity to stay busy for this,” said Olcese. “This is bigger than Maureen Shea because it happened to her in this instance, but it’s happening to other females as well.”
Shea, a pioneer of the sport, is a former WBC interim featherweight champion who has been unbeaten for the past 14 years.
She last fought in May of 2022, outpointing veteran Calista Salgado in Queens, N.Y.