Women’s world super middleweight Champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become a two-division world champion on Friday, June 22 when she faces unified women’s 154-pound champion Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight titles at Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan.
Shields (5-0, 2 KOs), who grew up in nearby Flint, 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 unified women’s super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight. Shields now begins her first camp with trainer John David Jackson as she attempts to become a two-division champion.
“I can’t 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 women’s boxing to new heights. 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. I’m excited to be working with John David Jackson for the next step in my career as I look to conquer another division.”
Two-division champion Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs) is the reigning WBA and WBO 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 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.
“I’m really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to showcase my skills against Claressa Shields on Showtime,” said Gabriels. “This will be a great battle of two world champions, a great night for my country, and a great fight for women’s boxing. I only know one thing – the woman in front of me will lose. 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.”
If both Shields and Hammer are victorious in their 160-pound bouts on June 22, they will meet in a fall blockbuster to determine the undisputed women’s middleweight world champion.
“I’m 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. “I’ve never been so motivated. This will be a great year for women’s boxing. It’s our time!”
Hammer, of Dortmund, Germany, has dominated the women’s middleweight division for nearly eight years, having won the WBO title at 160 pounds in 2010. The 27-year-old became unified champion in 2016 with a unanimous decision over WBC titlist Kali Reis and has made two defenses as 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. 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.
“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 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 on June 22 and send a message to Claressa Shields. It’s my time to shine!”
The Showtime televised event begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT and features the No. 1 fighter at 168 pounds facing the No. 1 fighter at 154 pounds as they both attempt to become champions for the first time in the middleweight division.