Claressa Shields, Cecilia Braekhus talk potential clash for women’s boxing supremacy

first_imgLaila Ali and Ann Wolfe have both been regarded as the greatest women’s fighters in boxing history. Unfortunately, they never faced each other in the squared circle to settle it.Braekhus and Shields have the opportunity to prove it in the near future. Should both of them continue their winning ways, a clash seems inevitable as long as they can agree upon a weight class. Hopefully, Braekhus and Shields do what Ali and Wolfe never did. This Saturday night, the women will take center stage as undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus and unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields will be in action on the same show, but in separate fights. Braekhus headlines against Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes while Shields takes on Femke Hermans (10:20 p.m. ET, HBO).MORE: Join DAZN and watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15Three weeks ago, Shields easily dispatched Hannah Rankin via unanimous decision. Two days later, it was revealed Shields would be competing on the final HBO Boxing card. There was an assumption by many that having Braekhus and Shields on the same card indicated that a battle between the top two women’s fighters on the planet was on the horizon. Without question, a Braekhus-Shields clash would be one of the biggest fights in the history of women’s boxing. Braekhus (34-0, nine KOs) is regarded as the consensus No. 1-ranked women’s pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The native of Norway became the WBA and WBC welterweight champion in her 11th fight in March 2009. She added the WBO belt in May 2010 and the IBF strap in September 2014. Shields (7-0, two KOs) became the first boxer in American history to win consecutive Olympic gold medals, at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. In her fourth pro fight, Shields captured the WBC and inaugural IBF female super middleweight titles. Last June, the Flint, Mich., native won the vacant WBA and inaugural IBF female middleweight titles.The two appear to be on a collision course and there will be lines drawn in the sand when they attempt to outdo one another Saturday.”People need to know I’m the No. 1 women’s pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” Braekhus told Sporting News. “It’s unanimous all across the sport and all the media people. That is pretty unique and one of the reasons why I’m headlining this card on HBO. The other reason is my record. You go look at my record and you will see I’ve had 34 fights and you can find world champions, top pound-for-pound fighters and a lot of the top names. I know I’m new to the American audience, but I have been around for a very long time.”Shields understands the lines the boxing public are trying to draw between her and Braekus. She wants to make it clear to everyone that she is at the top of the food chain and would like to prove it to Braekhus. But Shields says she has some unfinished business at 160 pounds before that fight can occur.”It’s a fight I want in the future,” Shields admitted to SN. “I think it is great that the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world are fighting on the same card. People are drawing their own lines. Right now, I’m focused on 160 pounds. I want to beat Christina Hammer and become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. I do want to face Cecilia, but it’s not going to happen next. I will be fighting Christina Hammer in the first quarter of next year.”Shields added: “Of course, people are going to compare us. I just hope when they compare us, they will be saying that they will agree more with me saying I’m the greatest women’s fighter of all time. I feel like she is a great fighter, but I feel like my style is better.”When the topic of fighting Shields was brought up, Braekhus’ voice perked up. She knows how the big it could be, but she also wants to taper expectations for the time being as there are obstacles.”It’s hard to say right now because she is two weight divisions above me and that’s a lot,” Braekhus said. “She’s going to be facing Christina Hammer next year. I think it’s too early to start discussing (but) me and Claressa fighting would be huge.”The biggest issue is the weight at which that the fight would take place. Braekhus competes two weight classes lower than Shields. The only realistic options would be for the showdown to be at a catchweight of 152 pounds — as we saw for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Floyd Mayweather in September 2013 — or at 154 pounds. Shields didn’t hesitate to suggest a weight at which that the fight could take place. Braekhus wouldn’t reveal whether she would be willing to move up, but she made it clear that Shields would have to move down.”One (hundred) fifty-four (pounds),” Shields emphatically said. “People think I’m this belt snatcher, but I don’t want the 147-pound belts. That’s not what I want. She feels like she’s No. 1 pound-for-pound and I say that I am No. 1 pound-for-pound. And we are close enough in weight that we should meet in a fight and let the fighters decide that. I don’t want the belts. I don’t believe I can make 147 even though my nutritionist believes I can. I believe 154 is the lowest I can go and I would gladly box Cecilia there.” “She would definitely need to move down a bit,” Braekhus said.The winner between Braekhus and Shields would no doubt be the best in the world and arguably the greatest women’s fighter of all time.  In boxing, you always want to see the best fighting the best. Unfortunately, showdowns between boxing’s elite are few and far between. When they do happen, they often end up producing magical moments for fans of the sweet science.  We saw that in September when Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin stood toe-to-toe for 36 minutes with the Mexican star winning a narrow decision to become the unified middleweight champion. Last Saturday night, WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury battled to a thrilling split draw in arguably the best heavyweight title showdown in the United States in over 25 years. last_img read more

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US$80M to Reform Education Sector

first_imgMinster Werner told journalists at the dedication of the Kinston Weagba Public School in Tarjourwon District in Sinoe County on Tuesday that government needs US$80 million to successfully reform the sector.This amount, he said, will include the construction of modern schools in all parts of the country; training of teachers and their quarters; science laboratories and many other administrative initiatives.The Kinston Weagba Public School, located in the One Way Community, Tarjourwon, has everything that is required of a modern school facility.Minister Werner told reporters that MOE will need pretty close to US$80 million to implement all of the strategies for the education sector and to build schools to particularly decongest places like Monrovia.He said this will help to drastically reduce the appalling student-to-teacher ratio, which currently stands at 50, 75 or 100 students to a teacher depending on the places.“In our own strategy for the reform, we need the money to build schools across Liberia that will also help in cutting down the student population of places that are overcrowded, like Monrovia and other places. We need to reduce the ratio to at least 40:1.”The government, he said has an agreement with the Global Education Partnership and the World Bank to construct 41 modernized schools across the country. 27 of the 41 are nearing completion, with the Kinston Weagba Public School being one of them. The project is a US$40 million agreement between the three partners and comes to an end next year.The cost of construction of the Kinston Weagba Public High School, which the minister termed as the flagship project that he would want for all schools in the country, is US$500,000.“We want to build modern schools that have the facilities we want in all of our schools. For example, the bathrooms here for the females will have showers. There are also teachers’ quarters that will be well furnished, laboratories and others. All the teachers will need to do is to bring their suitcase. You will meet the furniture and you will leave the furniture when you are re-assigned.It’s great to see the future right here, he said, “When this school is fully completed, the labs and everything will be equipped. There will be desks, textbooks, library, labs, teachers’ lounge and everything that is require of a modern school.Reforming Liberia’s “Messy” education system, which seems to be the most debated public policy issue of recent, “requires the collective efforts every Liberian and commitment on the part of the government and partners, because the task is monumental and the cost is as well exorbitant,” Minister of Education, George Werner, said.Since the thought of reforming the system was brought out by Minister Werner when he called for the premature closure of schools to prepare for the commencement of the reform exercise, there have been lot of debates in the public sphere about sincerity, rationale behind this call, with many terming it as belated.This skepticism is especially apparent giving that the current administration is only left with two more years, but Minister Werner, who desires to leave a legacy on the sector, continues to stress that every long journey begins with a single step and much could be achieved in the next two years if all of the stakeholders work on a concerted and unified front.“What you see here is what we would like for our schools to look like when the reform is put on track and fully implemented,” he said.In selecting the communities that will be beneficiaries of the 41 schools under the project, the Minister said there was a demographic survey done to select the site.It is important to provide a very safe environment for students to learn like the construction exercises that are ongoing, Minister Werner noted, but there are needs for qualified teacher. Liberia currently has just 17 percent of its teachers that have first degree, while the rest do not have.“Just a minute percent of our teachers have their first degrees; the rest are high school graduates or no high school certificates at all. So we do have a monumental task,” the minister said.“We are to make sure that we train teachers. We are working with the universities, the University of Liberia and the Tubman University in Maryland County to train more teachers. At the moment we are recruiting science and mathematics teachers, but the recruitment is very slow,”He hopes that young Liberians, who have degrees in the sciences, can apply, because we aim at paying them well. If they have to relocate them we will have to give them in addition to their salaries, relocation allowances,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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