Claressa Shields is expected to make a mandated middleweight championship defense in her return to a boxing ring December 11.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Shields intends to defend her WBC 160-pound title against Ema Kozin in a doubleheader that’ll also feature rival Savannah Marshall against an opponent to be chosen. Shields and Marshall likely will meet sometime in the spring if they win their upcoming matches in Birmingham, England.
England’s Marshall (11-0, 9 KOs), the WBO middleweight champion, is the only opponent who has defeated Shields (11-0, 2 KOs) during the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s boxing career as an amateur or pro. Shields hasn’t lost since Marshall beat her 14-8 in an Olympic qualification tournament in May 2012.
Sky Sports Box Office will offer the Shields-Marshall doubleheader as a pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A deal for U.S. TV rights to the Shields-Marshall hadn’t been secured as of Monday afternoon.
Shields, 26, was named the WBC’s middleweight champion in recess once the undisputed middleweight champion moved down from 160 pounds to 154. She became an undisputed champion in a second weight class by beating Quebec’s Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-1, 0 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 10-round junior middleweight title unification match March 5 in Flint, Michigan, Shields’ hometown.
Kozin (21-0-1, 11 KOs) won the WBC’s interim middleweight title by unanimously out-pointing Uruguay’s Chris Namus (25-6, 8 KOs) in their 10-rounder a year ago in Donauwoerth, Germany. The Slovenian southpaw is a former IBF super middleweight champ as well.
The 30-year-old Marshall made the third defense of her WBO belt by stopping Zambia’s Lolita Muzeya (16-1, 8 KOs) in the second round Saturday night at Newcastle Arena in Newcastle, England.
Shields essentially won’t get any time off after participating in her second MMA match October 27 in Hollywood, Florida. If Shields (1-0, 1 KO) wins her MMA fight against Abigail Montes (2-0, 1 KO) and walks away from the PFL’s cage unscathed, she’ll leave Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, take a few days off and then starting training for her boxing match with Kozin six weeks later.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.