Balance of Power: Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels
By David A. Avila
Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has her sights on greatness and nothing less.
Super middleweight champion Shields (5-0, 2 KOs) is willingly dropping down a weight division to meet Hanna Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs) the super welterweight champion who is moving up a weight division. The middleweight battle for the IBF and WBA titles takes place on Friday June 22, it Detroit at the Masonic Temple.
Showtime will televise the Salita Promotions main event live.
Losing weight was never before an issue for Shields who easily made the 168-pound super middleweight limit. This time dropping to 160-limit was a new experience and training and conditioning has even taken away from her favorite guilty pleasure: karaoke.
“I need my karaoke,” claims Shields laughing. “But I’ve been telling myself to get business taken care of so I haven’t been able to go to the Internet. Losing weight is the goal and in this camp I really been training, sleeping, eating, and doing it over again. I’ve never been to karaoke.”
Right now Shields is dead on target for weight and ready for action.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was inactive for the longest period of her boxing career and her weight zoomed to183. But now she’s comfortably down to 163 and ready for war.
She knows Gabriels presents a different style of foe and has changed her training camp and trainer to accommodate the new puzzle.
“She has a different style than I boxed in as a pro. She is going to be moving and all this,” said Shields about Gabriels. “People got to realize that at end of the day she got to hit me. If she don’t land one and I land one, I won the round.”
Costa Rican challenger
Gabriels feels her experience in championship fights and representing an entire country as its sole world champion has prepared her for Shields. Another incentive has been becoming a mother.
“I want to show my daughter everything that she wants in life, she can have as long as she works hard and she puts herself up to every challenge life has to offer,” said Gabriels of being a mother. “So more than being a great champion I want to be my daughters guide.”
Gabriels’ daughter and most of Costa Rica will be cheering for the WBA and WBO super welterweight world champion moving up from 154 to 160 pounds to challenge Shields. Both women have fought before large crowds and large television audiences before.
“It helps me a lot because every time I step into the ring a little part from all the people who follow me is right in there with me, my country, my fans, my family, my friends all of them are in there with me,” said Gabriels who captured her first world title in March 2011 in front of more than 20,000 fans packed in a San Jose stadium with the president of the country in attendance. “That’s an extra motivation when you know there are people watching, you accomplish what you want.”
Shields also has fought under the bright lights and in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans.
“I’ve boxed in the Olympics in front of 30,000 people. We don’t even want to talk about eyes seeing us box on television. I’ve been in those kinds of situations but I don’t let the situation get ahead of me,” said Shields citing her Olympic victory campaigns in 2012 and 2016. “I’ve been in big fights and she has been in big fights. I know she is not going to lay down, but hopefully people in Costa Rica cheer her on.”
Recently in World Cup competition Costa Rica defeated the USA and kept it from participating in the current World Cup now underway.
Now the two countries meet again, but in boxing.
Gabriels is a former welterweight champion now holding the super welterweight titles and looking to be a three-division world champion. And how does she plan to beat Shields?
“You have to be smarter than her,” said Gabriels. “She’s never fought someone like me before.”
Shields has been working with a new trainer John David Jackson in Florida for this new challenge in a second weight division. She’s been working on new technique and in a new environment. It’s been a different experience for the energetic champion and it’s all designed for one thing.
“I want a knockout at the end of the day,” said Shields. “This is what gets people out there, knockouts.”
The co-main event features Christina Hammer (22-0) versus Tori Nelson (17-1-3) for the WBC middleweight title. The winners of this face the winners of Shields and Gabriels.
For more information or tickets call (313) 832-7100 or go to Ticketmaster.com doors open 6:30 p.m.
(Photo by Trapp Photos)