Women must be allowed to fight for as long as men, says Shields

(Reuters) – World light-middleweight champion Claressa Shields has called for women’s world title bouts to be the same length as men’s fights, arguing that existing regulations strengthen the argument that women should be paid less.

Women’s world title fights are conducted over 10 rounds of two minutes while men fight for 12 rounds of three minutes.

Shields, who on March 5 bids to become the first undisputed four-belt world champion at two different weights – said that it was time for a rethink.

“I think the biggest thing in women’s boxing is people say… women shouldn’t get paid the same because we don’t fight the same amount of time,” Shields told Reuters TV.

“But I wish more people will realise that we didn’t put those rules in place, the men did. So the men need to change those rules to where every world champion boxer for women can fight three-minute, 12 rounds.”

Shields said the issue “affects women’s boxing as a whole.”

“We don’t have as many knockouts as the men because we don’t have enough time to get the knockouts,” she said.

Shields won the WBC super-middleweight title in her fourth fight before unifying all four major belts – WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO – at middleweight.

The 25-year-old can do the same in the light-middleweight category if she beats Canada’s IBF and WBA champion Marie Eve Dicaire at the Dort Federal Event Centre in Flint, Michigan.

Shields said it was not the case that women boxers needed protecting.

“We all know what we’re signing up for. So no need to try to protect the women, if you’re not going to protect the men, because they’re getting knocked out, they’re getting hurt they are actually dying,” she added.

Reuters asked each of the governing bodies for a comment.

The WBC said that scientific studies showed female boxers were more likely to suffer concussion than men, and that was why their fights were over a shorter time.

“It’s science not sexism that demands we uphold this decision. Females have been shown to have increased susceptibility, symptom scores, and prolonged symptoms compared to males,” the WBC said in a statement.

“Sadly, most women athletes, in all sports, earn less than the men do. We are working on this by creating campaigns and joining forces with organizations in many arenas, not just boxing.”

(Reporting by Iain Axon in London; Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)