Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels for Middleweight Title
By David A. Avila
A battle of true world champions Claressa Shields and Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels will take place in two months, announced Salita Promotions.
Forget about the other championship bouts.
When IBF and WBC super middleweight champion Shields (5-0, 2 KOs) enters the boxing ring against WBO and WBA super welterweight Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs) on June 22, its the first mega fight for female pugilists since Laila Ali and Christy Martin. They will meet in the middleweight division for the vacant IBF and WBA world titles. Showtime will televise.
It’s a match between two of the most athletically gifted female fighters in the world.
“I can’t wait to get into the ring on June 22,” said Shields, 23. “I love the fight against Hanna Gabriels – champion versus champion, exactly the kind of fight that I want every time to take women’s boxing to new heights.”
Gabriels is a superstar in her native country. She’s performed in sold out soccer stadiums before crowds of more than 20,000 in the Costa Rican capital San Jose. She’s also won world titles in various weight divisions.
“I’m really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to showcase my skills against Claressa Shields on SHOWTIME,” said Gabriels, 35, who also is a former welterweight champion. “This will be a great battle of two world champions, a great night for my country, and a great fight for women’s boxing.
When the match was first announced many in the female boxing community gasped in excitement. Although Shields had defeated other champions including the previously undefeated Nikki Adler, this time she faces a well-known champion with experience and talent to match her own. And both Shields and Gabriels are eager to win a world title in a third weight division and further boost their own lofty reputations.
“I’ve said one of my goals is to win world championships in three weight divisions. I’m proud to be super middleweight champion, and on June 22 I will add the middleweight championship to my accomplishments,” said Shields.
Gabriels is equally confident.
“I only know one thing – the woman in front of me will lose,” said Gabriels. “I take nothing away from Claressa’s accomplishments, but on June 22 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.”
The fight will be staged by Salita Promotions at Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan on a Friday June 22. Also on the same card will be another middleweight champion.
WBC middleweight titlist Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs) meets Tori Nelson (17-1-3) in a world title match. The fight will be shown in highlights on Showtime. The winner will face the winner between Shields and Gabriels later this year.
“I have been training intensively for months for my first fight in the U.S.,” Hammer said. “I can’t wait to show my skills, desire and hunger to America.”
It’s a mega fight card for women’s boxing and perhaps the best ever staged on the elite level.
“Women’s boxing will shine brightly on June 22 in Detroit as the best fight the best,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Claressa Shields, in just her sixth fight as a professional, is once again showing her willingness to take on all challenges when she competes for a second world title against one of the best female fighters in the sport. Hanna Gabriels is a long-reigning world champion and a national hero in Costa Rica.”