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Claressa Shields won't accept less than 50-50 split for Laila Ali fight

Claressa Shields won't accept less than 50-50 split for Laila Ali fight(Getty Images)
Will Claressa Shields and Laila Ali cement a deal to fight?

Before Claressa Shields and Laila Ali can step into the ring, a deal has to be reached, and that's where the disagreement lies.

Shields took to Twitter last week and said Ali is asking for $5 million for the matchup.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist delved more into the financials when she confirmed on a recent episode of the Ak & Barak Show that negotiations are underway between herself and the daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali. Shields isn't happy with the terms Ali's team is asking for and wants her fair share of the pie.

"She wants a bigger share of the pay-per-view buys," Shields said. "She wants the bigger percentage. She wants to be the A-side. And it's like, 'No, you're not. You're not going to be the A-side of anything, you understand?  We can come to an agreement. If you're talking about any split, it's going to be 50-50 because I'm relative right now.

"I'm the three-division world champion," she continued. "I'm not going to bow down because that's Muhammad Ali's daughter. Yeah, you're Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila Ali. You're not Muhammad Ali. So, don't think I'm going to be (like), 'Oh, she gets (a) 70-30 split.' Where? 70-30, no. That's not going to happen.

"If she really wants the fight to happen, stop talking about this ridiculous split and stop being unfair," Shields added. "Stop trying to talk to me and my team like we're dumb. I know the business of boxing. You're not going to play me and talk to me about wanting a bigger percentage. You want to be the A-side because you're known more. You're known more for cooking. You're not known more for boxing. That's not it."

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Fighting Ali would represent not only the biggest fight in Shields' career but also the most significant contest in the history of women's boxing. For most boxers, it's always about the money. For the three-division titleholder and current undisputed middleweight champion, it's not about how many zeroes are at the end of the paycheck when it comes to this potential fight.

"It don't matter because I can make millions of dollars without Laila Ali," Shields said. "My next fight is going to be (for) $500,000. I'm still going to make that kind of money regardless in my career. It may not be at the end of this year but next year and the year after that. It don't even matter against who. There's always going to be someone up-and-coming.

"I fluctuate from 168 to 154, possibly 147 if Cecilia Breakhus signs the paper and says she'll fight me," she continued. "I have options. So I'm not going to bow down because it would be my biggest payday. I'm not hurting for no money (laughs). I've been saving my money since I won the Olympics when I was 17 since I qualified and was No. 1 in the country. I saved up a $1,000 a month, then $5,000 a month. I lived at the Olympic Training Center, where I was also making $5,000 a month and not paying no bills and no groceries. I have a lot of money saved up."

Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) wants to make one thing clear to people who feel she's ducking Ali. She wants to be treated as an equal and won't accept anything other than a fair split of the purse.

"I'm not going to bow down to that," Shields said. "I want to make the fight happen. The more we wait, the more it harms her and (it's) actually great for me because I'm going to stay active and keep fighting, learning more, and building more. If she really wants to fight, $5 million — $5 million (for each of us), and we both break even."