Claressa Shields Chases Greatness, Looks To Become A 2-Division Champ

America’s only back-to-back, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and unified womens super middleweight Champion, Claressa Shields, will attempt to become a two-division world champion on Friday when she faces off against unified womens 154-pound champion Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships in Detroit.

Claressa Shields

The fight is a Showtime Boxing special edition because women dominating and headlining fight cards in 2018 is still seen as an extreme anomaly. Still the significance of a battle featuring the No. 1 fighter at 168 pounds facing the No. 1 fighter at 154 as they both attempt to become champions for the first time in the middleweight division is too good to pass up.

Shields vs. Gabriels: Preview | June 22 on SHOWTIME

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Unified Super Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields will face Unified Jr. Middleweight World Champion Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships – live Friday, June 22 at 10PM ET/PT on SHOWTIME from Masonic Temple in Detroit.

Shields (5-0, 2 KOs), grew up in Flint, Michigan and amid all the odds was the first American boxer in history male or female to win consecutive Olympic Gold Medals. The 23 year old turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and became the unified womens super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight. Shields now begins her first camp with renowned trainer John David Jackson as she attempts to become a two-division champ.

 I cant wait to get into the ring on June 22, said Shields. I love the fight against Hanna Gabriels champion versus champion, exactly the kind of fight that I want every time to take womens boxing to new heights. Ive said one of my goals is to win world championships in three weight divisions. Im proud to be super middleweight champion, and on June 22 I will add the middleweight championship to my accomplishments. Im excited to be working with John David Jackson for the next step in my career as I look to conquer another division.

Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs) is the reigning WBA and WBO World Champion. The native of Costa Rica won her first world title at welterweight in 2009 and has since fought in an astounding 11 consecutive world title fights. The 35-year-old won her first belt in the 154-pound division in 2010 and became the unified champion in 2016. In her last bout, Gabriels avenged the only loss on her record, a 2013 defeat to then-undefeated title challenger Oxandia Castillo.  She looks to become a three-division world champion on June 22. 



 Im really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to showcase my skills against Claressa Shields, said Gabriels.  This will be a great battle between two world champions, a great night for my country, and a great fight for womens boxing.  I only know one thing the woman in front of me will lose.  I take nothing away from Claressas accomplishments, but on June 22nd she is facing a three-time world champion and I will take the 0 in her record and prove I am the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Both Shields and Gabriels are fighting an uphill battle in the quest for eyeballs. Until boxing understands how to market an exceptional talent like Shields, we will continue to see the limited interest and almost sideshow-style promotions for the event that make it feel like a general after-thought with fans.   

 This main event is yet another example of Showtime Boxings commitment to delivering the best fighters in the best matchups, said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION. We have two unified champions, the top fighters in their respective divisions, facing off for a championship in a new weight class.  Will Claressa Shields be as dominant as a middleweight?  Can Hanna Gabriels shock the world and hand Claressa her first loss since she was an amateur in 2012?”

Challenge: Christina Hammer vs. Claressa Shields

Challenge in Detroit: WBC/WBO boxing world champion Christina Hammer vs. WBC/IBF boxing world champion Claressa Shields. By Showtime / rbrboxing.

The event also features unified womens middleweight champion, the German-born Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs) as she defends her WBC & WBO titles in her U.S. debut against former world champion Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs). Shields dominated the previously undefeated Nelson en route to a 10-round unanimous decision in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation back in January 2018.

 If both Shields and Hammer are victorious, they will meet in a fall blockbuster to determine the undisputed womens middleweight world champion. While the world is watching what happens between GGG and Canelo Alvarez, the women’s ranks have its own Middleweight super fight.

 Im glad Christina Hammer will be fighting that night as well. After I beat champion Hanna Gabriels, I want to unify all the middleweight belts against Hammer, Shields said. Ive never been so motivated. This will be a great year for womens boxing. Its our time! 

Hammer, of Dortmund, Germany, has dominated the womens middleweight division for nearly eight years, having won the WBO title at 160 pounds in 2010.  The 27 year old became the unified champion in 2016 with a unanimous decision over WBC titlist Kali Reis and has made two defenses as the unified champion. Hammer won the WBO title in 2010 in her eighth professional fight and has dominated the middleweight division since, losing just a handful of rounds in her reign as champion at 160 pounds. 

Nikki Adler vs. Claressa Shields: Highlights | ShoBox: The New Generation

Claressa Shields impresses in TKO victory and improves to 4-0 over former WBC world champion Nikki Adler to become the new unified WBC and IBF Super Middleweight champion.

Hammer, who also models professionally and was recently featured at Fashion Week in New York City, has campaigned mostly in Germany since turning professional in 2009. Make no mistake this is a classic Rocky vs. Drago or Laila Ali vs Christy Martin style matchup where the best will truly fight the best and Showtime is strategically building both fighters in anticipation of this eventual matchup.  

 I have been training intensively for months for my first fight in the U.S., Hammer said. I cant wait to show my skills, desire, and hunger to America and prove that I am THE middleweight champion of the world. While I have great respect for Tori Nelson, I promise I will defeat her in spectacular fashion and send a message to Claressa Shields. Its my time to shine!

With people like Shields’ promoter Dmitriy Salita one of the only investing in women’s boxing next to Lou DiBella and Premier Boxing Champions, Claressa Shields has the opportunity to not only continue her chase of greatness but make women’s boxing great again. 

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