Best Fight of the Year – Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels Best Fight of the Year – Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels


By David A. Avila

Many intense and entertaining fights took place all over the world. But for drama and intensity with the world watching and with much at stake we voted on the following fight as the best for 2018. We also included two runner ups:

Claressa Shields versus Hanna Gabriels

When the match between super middleweight champion Claressa Shields and super welterweight champion Hanna Gabriels of Costa Rica was signed, fans not familiar with female prizefighting had no idea what to expect.

Those who knew Gabriels expected an explosion especially against the crackling talent of two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields moving down a weight division to make the match.

Knowledgeable fans rubbed their hands in glee. Unknowing fans got a taste of female prizefighting at its best, like biting into an expensive steak for the first time.

Only fighters with supreme confidence in their boxing skills would agree to meet each other at a designated weight class. Gabriels moved up a weight division and Shields moved down and the two met at middleweight at the Masonic Temple with Showtime Boxing televising the event live for the American public.

Fighting at super middleweight had been a breeze for Shields, but moving down in weight presented extra obstacles for the Michigan fighter with lightning hands. At 168 pounds it was easy for her to make weight and fight the bigger but slower girls. At 160 Shields was forced to go down in weight and that was a different experience. Plus, she was facing someone accustomed to trading blows with quick-fisted fighters.

Gabriels had been fighting at 154 pounds for 10 years so moving up in weight was actually easier. But facing one of the best female fighters to emerge in years and not knowing what kind of power she was about to face was a major obstacle. She accepted the challenge.

On Saturday June 22, the two met at Masonic Temple in Detroit. Fans were expecting another blowout. What those in Detroit and those watching on television were two extremely athletic and determined prizefighters eager to prove their talent.

When Gabriels connected in the first round with an uppercut and left hook to send Shields to the floor for the first time, a hush went over the audience at the unexpected knock down. Shields calmly went back to her corner but emerged in the next round like someone lit dynamite under her.

For the next nine rounds the two fired atom bombs at each other as fans saw exactly what female prizefighting is all about. Though no more knockdowns were scored the two female prizefighters challenged each other with a ferocity seldom seen.

After the final bell a collective breath was gathered by all. Female boxing finally had its moment of truth. Shields and Gabriels proved to the world females can fight every bit as ferociously as men and sometimes more. Shields won the fight and gained even more fans.

Shields and Gabriels also set the stage for the future of women’s prizefighting. The best have to fight the best to gain attention. Undefeated records or numerous world title belts don’t mean as much as fighters lighting up the arena for the fans. It’s all about entertainment.

Runner up

Louisa Hawton vs. Brenda Flores

The two tiny atom weights (under 102 pounds) Louisa Hawton of Australia and Brenda Flores of Mexico were not expected to do much. Despite fighting for the WBC interim world title they were not included in the televised portion of the show at the Inglewood Forum on Sept. 9. They started engaging quickly and just kept revving up the blows for 10 rounds. Back and forth they exchanged with neither willing to give an inch. The two tiny prizefighters fought like female versions of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Fans gave them a standing ovation when it was finally over and it definitely was the best fight of the boxing card. A bloodied Hawton smiled throughout the punch fest and Flores won a close split decision to win the title. A rematch is expected to take place in January or February.

Second runner up

Yesenia Gomez vs Esmeralda Moreno 1

The two Mexican light flyweights met in Playa del Carmen near Cancun on May 19. Esmeralda Moreno arrived as the favorite and few gave local fighter Yesenia Gomez a chance in their WBC world title fight. But Gomez proved to have the right boxing style for Moreno’s pressure style. After 10 back and forth rounds the fight ended in a majority draw. They fought again in September with Gomez capturing the title by majority decision.


(Photo by Trapp Photos)