SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 22, 2018 – Claressa “T-Rex” Shields faced her toughest test as a pro and passed, defeating Hanna Gabriels of Costa Rica in a unanimous decision, earning the WBC and WBO women’s middleweight championship titles In a second division for Shields. Scores were 97-92 X 2, and 98-91 on the third card.
Gabriels (18-2-1, 11 KOs), 35, came out aggressively, and put Shields (6-0, 2 KOs), 23, down on the canvas in the opening round. It was the first knockdown for Shields, via a right upper cut. It sent her off balance and she sat down hard, as stunned as her hometown crowd.
Gabriels puts Shields to her toughest test
Trainer John David Jackson told Shields to take it easy in the corner, but Shields came roaring out, looking to punish Gabriels. She popped her with a left hand, but Gabriels returned the favor. It was what the crowd at the Detroit Masonic Temple came to see, an all action main event.
Both fighters settled down in the third round. Shields shook off whatever jitters she had, taking a bit more care with her shots, but throwing with the same bad intentions as in the first few rounds. Gabriels began pacing herself, perhaps due more to fatigue after coming after Shields in the early rounds. There was not a doubt what both women wanted to do: score a big knockout and punish her opponent.
Shields started taking control by the middle rounds, landing sharp right hands to Gabriel’s head. But Gabriels was far from done. The pair traded hard shots at the end of the sixth round, led by a wicked hard right hand from Shields. She tried to close the show; if the women were fighting three minutes rounds (as they should) instead of two, it might have been over.
Shields gave the fans what they came for in the seventh, landing a string of power shots. Gabriels was still fighting back, and thanks to a strong chin she stayed on her feet. Through the rest of the fight, Shields looked for ways to get a stoppage, but Gabriels would not yield. It made for an entertaining bout, exactly what women’s professional boxing needs to secure its rightful place in the sport.
Shields says comeback shows what she’s made of
She’s very fast and she has a lot of power,” said Gabriels after the fight. “She’s a smart kid. It was a great fight. You have to trust the judges in this game, I will accept my loss with dignity and stand tall. I gave it all.”
Gabriels said she wouldn’t make any excuses, but added “I’m still the 154 pound champion. For the fans, I don’t think it went wrong at all.”
Shields gave Gabriels credit for coming up in weight to take her on, showing she’s got heart. “She’s strong, she caught me with a shot in the first round. After she landed the big shot, I thought to myself, ‘you’ve still got it. Be smart, use your jab, move your head.’”
Shields said her ability to come back from a knockdown showed what she’s made of. “I can be put on my ass, I got up and fought ten rounds, and I won. I was like, either way it goes, Tonight is my night, I’m going to make history. I’ve got to show the world why I’m the Greatest Woman of All Time. I may have got put on my ass,, but it wasn’t over. She tried to get me out second round and third round but I won every round after the knockdown.
“I showed that now I’m really dangerous because they can knock me down and I’m going to get up and fight harder. I’m in shape. I did what I was supposed to do.”
German champion puts the Hammer down in a display of skills
American boxing fans saw a display of impressive skills and a dominating performance by women’s WBC and WBO middleweight champion Christina “Lady” Hammer (23-0, 10 KOs) of Germany. Hammer defended her belts with ease against a tough but overmatched former champion Tori “Sho Nuff” Nelson (17-2-3, 2 KOs) of Ashburn, Virginia. Judges’ scores were 100-90 and 99-91 X 2 for Hammer.
Some fans may be disappointed not to see a knockout in this fight, but there is plenty to admire about Hammer. She is well trained and in superb condition. Her fundamentals are textbook: solid footwork and hand speed, a beautiful jab, and the ability to follow up with combinations of straight rights and lefts plus a sneaky upper cut. Hammer was never in the least bit of danger against Nelson. She resembles a young Wladimir Klitschko, fighting tall at 5-foot-11 and with the same steely discipline.
Hammer admitted she would have liked a knockout, but it wasn’t to be. “I tried every second, that’s boxing. Everything can happen, and you have to be careful till the bell, that’s all.
“The best answer is a knockout, but this decision, I accept it. She was a tough fighter, she got hit with a lot of punches. She’s tough, and I hope the USA is good with this. I’m the champ,” said Hammer after her victory.
After the main event, when Shields learned Hammer was sitting ringside watching her fight, she said, “Hammer, I’ll whip your ass – right here I’ll whip your ass right now.” Hammer came up into the ring, and the women got into a brief shoving match, with a minor scuffle among the camps, something you see frequently with the men, but a first for the ladies. It was all good clean fun and showed that Shields and Hammer have every bit as much fire as their male counterparts. It’s good for the boxing world to see it.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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