Boxing star Claressa Shields is back for a historic card — and she's fighting a Canadian
2-time Olympic champ faces Marie-Eve Dicaire in all-women's event
This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports' daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what's happening in sports by subscribing here.
A Canadian is fighting one of the best boxers in the world
American Claressa Shields rose to stardom at the 2012 Olympics, where she won middleweight gold at the age of 17. She repeated as Olympic champ in 2016 and also won a pair of middleweight titles at the boxing world championships during her stellar amateur career.
Since turning pro in late 2016, Shields has won all 10 of her fights and captured titles in three different weight classes. In addition to being the current undisputed middleweight (160 pounds) champ, the 25-year-old also holds the WBC and WBO women's light middleweight (154 pounds) belts. ESPN and The Ring magazine both rate her as the second-best pound-for-pound women's boxer in the world.
On Friday night in her hometown of Flint, Mich., Shields will step into the ring for the first time in 14 months. Her opponent is a Canadian, 34-year-old Marie-Eve Dicaire, who's 17-0 as a pro and currently holds the IBF light middleweight title. The bout will unify the two fighters' various light middleweight belts, and the vacant WBA and The Ring titles are up for grabs too.
Shields is also putting herself out there. She and her manager personally put together Friday night's card, which is being billed as the first-ever all-female pay-per-view boxing event. The Shields-Dicaire main event is the first women's bout to headline a boxing pay-per-view since Laila Ali (Muhammad Ali's daughter) fought Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (Joe Frazier's daughter) in 2001.
As this story by ESPN's Michael Rothstein explains, Shields decided to go the DIY route after growing increasingly frustrated with her broadcast partner Showtime. She felt the cable network wasn't offering her the same opportunities as some of its big-name male boxers.
At the same time, she noticed that mixed martial arts does a better job of showcasing its women's stars (case in point: the co-main event on this Saturday's UFC 259 card is a women's featherweight title bout between star champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Megan Anderson). So Shields is becoming a two-sport athlete. She recently signed a deal with the Professional Fighters League that will see her do two MMA bouts this year, and she's also planning to fight twice in the boxing ring. The bout everyone would like to see is Shields vs. Ireland's Katie Taylor — the reigning undisputed lightweight champion and the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound women's boxer in the world. It's a bit tricky, though, because Shields would have to drop down in weight quite a bit to make the fight.
As for Dicaire's chances of ruining Shields' big night with an upset, well, they don't look great. The Canadian is a good fighter (The Ring rates her No. 2 in the world behind Shields in the light middleweight division) and her 17-0 record looks impressive. But she's never fought outside of her home province of Quebec, and now she's going right into the backyard of an opponent who's nine years younger and more talented.
As CBC Sports' resident fight expert Cole Shelton (follow him on Twitter here) noted when we talked about this matchup, outpointing Shields over 10 rounds is a tall order for Dicaire. So a surprise knockout is probably the best path to victory for the Canadian. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to have that kind of stopping power. All 17 of her pro fights have gone the distance. As a result, the current betting odds imply Dicaire has only about a 13 per cent chance of beating Shields. But, win, lose or draw, simply getting the opportunity to fight in the main event of this historic card — and getting to do so against one of the world's very best — is a big deal for Dicaire and for Canadian boxing.
The Raptors will be very shorthanded tonight. Five Toronto players — starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby; reserves Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn — plus head coach Nick Nurse and five of his assistants will miss tonight's game vs. Detroit as part of the NBA's health and safety protocols. This is just the latest of the Raptors' coronavirus-related issues, which started last week when Siakam, Nurse and five coaching assistants missed Friday's game against Houston. Sunday's game against Chicago was postponed, and Tuesday's game vs. Detroit was postponed until tonight due to what the league said was "positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization." Mercifully, tomorrow night's game in Boston is Toronto's last before the all-star break, which lasts a full week. Read more about the Raptors' problems here.
Trivia question: which NHL team holds the record for most goals scored in a game?
Gotta be one of the '80s Oilers squads, right? Maybe Lemieux's early-'90s Penguins? Or the legendary '76-77 Habs?
No, it's actually the 1919-20 Canadiens, who on this date 101 years ago beat the Quebec Bulldogs 16-3 to set a single-game goals record that has never been matched (hat tip to CBC News' Morning Brief newsletter for that factoid). Forward Newsy Lalonde and defenceman Harry Cameron each scored four times, and forwards Odie Cleghorn and Didier Pitre also had hat tricks. The legendary Georges Vezina was in net for the Canadiens that night. Quebec star Joe Malone, who about a month earlier had scored seven goals in a game to set an NHL record that still stands, was held to only one goal.
It might surprise you to hear that 1919-20 was the highest-scoring season in NHL history in terms of average goals per game. Montreal also scored 14 and 12 in separate contests that year, and teams averaged 4.79 goals per game (for comparison, last season it was 3.02). It also might surprise you to hear that, to this day, the four highest-scoring seasons in NHL history are still the first four — 1917-18 through 1920-21.
Coming up from CBC Sports
Snowboard cross: Watch the first of two sets of men's and women's World Cup races in Georgia on Thursday from 2-3:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. The second set goes Friday at the same time. Canada's Eliot Grondin is second in the men's season standings with only one World Cup stop left after this one.
Nordic ski world championships: Watch the women's cross-country 4x5-km relay Thursday at 7:15 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
You're up to speed. Get The Buzzer in your inbox every weekday by subscribing below.