Laila Ali, daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, last stepped in the ring 13 years ago, but during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take,” the boxing champion hinted that she will come out of retirement, if the price is right.
While discussing 24-year-old Claressa Shields, who has been the reigning undisputed middleweight champion of professional women’s boxing since 2019, Ali, who retired undefeated, said, “She has fought at 168, she walks around at 185 and I’m 200 pounds right now today. I’m 200 pounds, so I’m naturally a bigger girl. But I’ve fought at 168. But that definitely will come into play. That’s why I have 21 knockouts.”
Ali continued, “Let’s stick to the facts. So, it would be my absolute pleasure for the right amount of money to come back…” When “First Take” co-host interjected and said, “Knock her out,” Ali replied and said, “Absolutely.”
“That’s just what I do,” she added.
Shields quickly responded to Ali on Twitter.
Ali and Shields have discussed one another on public platforms in the past. Ali said during an interview on “Sway In The Morning,” that Shields cannot beat her. “First of all, she could never beat me. Let me get that really straight right now. Not simply because she’s not strong enough, because I would definitely knock her out, because she’s not talented enough,” she said. “You’re talented. You can box. You can throw those hard punches. But there’s a sweet science to boxing. The reason you have not been able to knock out the opponents that you have faced, I can totally see it.”
Shields later responded, telling TMZ Sports, “She’s Muhammad Ali’s daughter, she’s not Muhammad Ali. Let’s just keep it honest. Don’t say that I’m not talented because I’m the most talented female fighter there has been in the history of boxing.”
She added, “Laila Ali is all bark, no bite … If a girl call me out, I answer.”
Shields then called out Ali, accusing her of ducking former boxing champion Ann Wolfe. “She fought against soccer moms and probably strippers or something. I fight real fighters,” she said.
During Ali’s career, which spanned from 1999 to 2007, she held the WBC, WIBA, IWBF, and IBA super middleweight title among her women peers, according to Heavy. She also won the IWBF light heavyweight title.
Ali has since shifted careers, stepping out of the ropes and in front of the camera. She is the host of CBS Sports Network’s “We Need To Talk,” an all-women sports talk show, and “Late Night Chef Fight” on FYI Network. Ali has also hosted a number of other shows in the past.
However, after social media caught wind of her willingness to come out of retirement, at the right price, of course, the pleas were posted by the second.
“Bruh if Laila Ali comes outta retirement, I’m buying that fight. She on First Take and she CLEARLY wants ALL the smoke with Clarissa Shields. Got me at the office hyped for a hypothetical fight bro,” one person tweeted.
Another person said, “These young ones didn’t witness the power of Laila Ali. They don’t know that she was the ONE. everyone feared her. Y’all better do your research.”
Clearly, Laila Ali’s fans have been waiting for this moment.
Check out more reactions below.