The Shadow League is excited to have Three Time World Boxing Champion, Ana "The Hurricane" Julaton, handling our coverage of tonight's historic fight between two time Olympic Gold Medalist, Claressa Shields, and eight time USA Boxing Amateur Champion, Franchon Crews, both making their professional debut in the Super Middleweight division.
Julaton, recognized by the boxing community and fans around the world as one of the best Super Bantamweight Boxers ever in the history of the sport, is both a global national hero and inspiration to the Filipino community worldwide. Her unique story, which includes her position as the only current athlete competing in both boxing and MMA , was featured previously on The Shadow League and we're excited to have her as part of our strong team of experts in the world of combat sports.
Julaton: Checking out the events during the upcoming Ward vs. Kovalev fight, I realize that most coming to the event will be witnessing an amazing fight that could go down in history, a common tale told in this male dominated sport. I, on the other hand, am here tonight to not only share the story through the eyes of both a fan and a boxer, but to witness and experience a historic moment when two pugilistic princesses enter the stage tonight. I was fortunate enough to be a part of it as well when I made my pro debut in 2007 on the undercard of Pacquiao vs Barrera 2.
Almost a decade later, things have definitely changed.
Tonight I take pride in seeing what Claressa Shields has called the "re-introduction" of women's boxing. Both Shields and Franchon Crews will see all of their hard work and dedication as amateurs rewarded as they follow their dreams and enter the pro ranks of boxing. It's a different environment created by the powers that be in today's boxing world as opposed to when I first started in this sport in 2004 as a member of USA Boxing in San Francisco.
There's no question that MMA fans in the U.S., particularly through the success of the UFC, will watch a great fight regardless of the featured gender. It's the reason why I started my pro MMA career in 2014 while staying active in boxing. After all of the conversations I've had with a variety of influential people in the sport of boxing, I began to get the feeling that MMA is dominating in the world of combat sports, a fact that has been proven with the success of Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate and former boxer Holly Holm, and UFC's Dana White's commitment to women's MMA.
But things are beginning to change now for boxing, thanks in large part to the commitment of former HBO PPV Vice President Mark Taffet, who is the full time manager for Shields. He has given his commitment to making this not about women's boxing, but about demonstrating to everyone that stars deserve the stage no matter the gender. Two years ago, many in the Boxing world were asked "who was the last Gold Medalist to ever win an Olympic Gold in Boxing?" The incorrect answer was Andre Ward, who won it in 2004. Even HBO's own Max Kellerman made this mistake on national television, a mistake he apologized for after the Champ took to social media to clarify things.
The correct answer? Clarissa Shields, who won Olympic Gold in both 2012 and 2016.
Taffet understands that it's not just about being televised, but also about getting paid what you're worth. I still remember the long conversation I had with him during the post-fight conference at Marquez vs Pacquiao in 2012. I was shocked that he knew I had just fought in Argentina earlier that year in front of a record crowd of 40,000 in the biggest fight in Argentina Boxing History (at that time).
He told me that there was no good reason why fighters like us, who have already won world championships and proved our market power, shouldn't be given a national stage. He told me that a super fight between myself and Mexiccan boxing stars like Jackie Nava, Ana Maria Torres and Mariana Juarez would have been a welcome and sensible addition to Manny Pacquiao's undercards. Speaking with him that night, I could tell he was an advocate for great boxing, male or female, period. I felt Mark had a great understanding and knowledge about marketing and how to do things the right way. I appreciated his interest in the fact that the 2010 TV ratings of my WBO World Title fight, which was aired on the global Philippine TV, had beat out the ratings of Juan Manuel Lopez vs Bernabe Conception and Nonito Donaire vs Hernan "Tyson" Marquez. Concepcion and Donaire were two of the rising global Filipino stars, and both had already competed on HBO and Showtime in the USA. As we talked, it fascinated him to discover that my fight had aired in Canada live on TSN. My promoter, Allan Tremblay, had given the rights to Global Philippine TV after the fight happened and that "replay" was aired on rival global Philippine networks head to head against the LIVE airing of the Donaire and Concepcion double title fight the following weekend.
Though I was feeling loved globally throughout the Canadian and Filipino community world wide, I was also very hurt over one fact. "Why couldn't my fights have been aired on HBO or Showtime? I'm a proud Filipina, American born and raised in San Francisco. I spoke perfect English and I always gave my heart in every fight, which for the most part was action packed. So why no love from HBO or Showtime? Mark told me it was because of the sport being so out dated with "older minds."
Now that Mark is out of HBO PPV and is in boxing as a manager and publicist, many of the things he told me about in 2012 is all coming to fruition as he said they would. I spoke to sources close to the commission and confirmed that Claressa Shields will be making $50,000 and 8x National Champion, Franchon Crews, will be making $10,000 for their four round, pro debut bout tonight.
Compare that to the four round Heavyweight fight happening after Shields vs Crews, featuring Darmani Rock (5-0 with 4 KOs) making $5,000, while his opponent, Las Vegas based fighter Brice Ritani-Coe (4-4-1, with 3 KOs) will make $3,000.
Finally! Monetary figures that make sense.
I have seen Mark side by side with Claressa, making sure that all media outlets were talking about her. I'm sure Claressa has learned from Mark the importance of not only being a good fighter but also being able to deliver on TV.
Kudos to Mr. Taffet for fighting for what's right and not accepting the traditional and stereotypical lines I myself was subjected to in the past. "I know you've accomplished more, but this is Boxing and no one wants to watch it, so there's no money to be made."
I'm thrilled to see these two accomplished athletes, Shields and Crews, never had to hear that baloney. So thank you Mark Taffet, for keeping the promise you made years ago when we spoke at the Pacquiao vs Marquez fight. You told me back then that when the time comes for you to be able to help make a change, you would do so.
I'm proud to be here tonight. I will be one of the first people to congratulate Mark on this new venture and I'm so excited to see what he does next.