Hanna Gabriels: “I’ll Fight Anybody”

Hanna Gabriels signs with DiBella Entertainment: “I’ll Fight Anybody.”


By David A. Avila

Costa Rican super star Hanna Gabriels signed with American promoter Lou DiBella and joins his powerful stable of female prizefighters.

It could be the straw that stirs the drink.

With the signing of Gabriels, the current WBA super welterweight world titlist, a number of high voltage moves can be made in the female fight world including a mega match with welterweight queen Cecilia Braekhus.

“I’ve always wanted to face Cecilia Braekhus. I’d like to unify the super welterweight division,” said Gabriels, 36, a former track star for Costa Rica. “And I would love a rematch with Claressa Shields.”

It was her electrifying clash with the sensational Shields that caught the attention of American fight fans when they met last June in Detroit. That confrontation saw each combatant show female fighting skills rarely seen on television and was later voted the Fight of the Year by various publications.

“After Claressa’s fight I got a lot of fans and they always want to see me fight,” said Gabriels who likes that America has strong support for boxing. “There is much more of a boxing culture and women’s boxing is rising so much and I think we bring the best out of ourselves on big shows. It’s big for other women to be seen as well.

Both Shields and Gabriels burned their stamp on public awareness as leaders in the prizefighting world. Now DiBella Entertainment has Gabriels.

“When you have the opportunity to sign a fighter of this stature, of either gender, you take it,” said DiBella president of DiBella Entertainment. “Hanna Gabriels is a sensational talent and an incredible woman. She showed it against Claressa Shields and with her exceptional resume, that she is among the best of the best in female boxing.”

DiBella also has Heather Hardy, Raquel Miller, Alicia Napoleon, Amanda Serrano, and Shelly Vincent. It’s a murderer’s row of female prizefighters.

Costa Rican star

Gabriels began fighting professionally in November 2007 and won her first two bouts by knockout. She had nine pro bouts before fighting for the WBO welterweight world title in December 2009 against Gabriela Zapata in Managua, Nicaragua. She won by knockout in the fourth round.

Since winning that title she’s built a large following in her native Costa Rica. Gabriels has fought in front of crowds numbering more than 17,000 at soccer stadiums and with the president of her country in the audience.

Few female athletes possess the pure athleticism of Gabriels who performed as a track star for her country and immediately took to boxing. But she only had one amateur fight so every prize fight was a new experience. In 2013 she lost by knockout to Dominican fight Oxandia Castillo. Soon after, she allowed her husband Bryan Vazquez to take over as primary trainer and he taught her the same skills that have elevated him to top contender status in the super featherweight and lightweight divisions.

“We’ve been together for almost nine years now, we used to keep our things separately, but about 3 years ago we agreed to be more involved in each other’s career and it’s been a journey,” said Gabriels who credits her husband’s tutelage to increasing her boxing skills in the past several years. “I think its 100 percent him. I’ve always admired him and his abilities and always wanted to learn a quarter of what he’s able to do.”

After working feverishly with her husband, Gabriels fought her nemesis Castillo again in October 2017. This time she won convincingly.

“It was really tough because we had to work on the legs and footwork and it was really tough at the beginning. I don’t think I ever worked that much before,” said Gabriels of the victorious rematch. “Every day I’m trying to be better and reach a level of skill of what he’s capable to do.”

Unification fights

Because of her newly added firepower and defensive prowess Gabriels wants to fight as much as possible in the biggest conceivable fights. Signing with DiBella falls into her plans.

Unification is on her mind.

“Eva (Piatkowska) never wants to fight me but we have a mandatory,” said Gabriels of Poland’s Piatkowska who has the WBC world title. “It will probably go to purse bid. That will happen very soon. All the other belts are our goals as well.”

Recently, Gabriel fought in Nicaragua against Australia’s Sarah Dwyer last week. It was a memorable fight for Costa Rica’s mega star.

“Sarah was amazing. I think she will be one of my good friends in the future. Her and her team were great and so respectful. She was so well prepared to fight,” Gabriels said of her last opponent.

Now she’s eager to fight in the U.S.

“Now that I’m signed with DiBella Entertainment I have an opportunity to be in the ring more often,”Gabriels said. “I will fight anybody.”