San Diego, Calif., April 13, 2019 – One woman stands atop the middleweight division for the first time in boxing history. WBA/WBC/IBF women’s middleweight champion Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan spent one round assessing WBO women’s champion Christina Hammer of Germany. For the next nine, Shields took Hammer apart to win her title to unify the division.
Shields (9-0, 2 KOs), age 24, won by scores of 98-91 X 2 and 98—92 to deal Hammer her first professional loss. Two judges gave Shields credit for a knockdown in the eighth round. Hammer (24-1-1, 11 KOs), age 28, didn’t hit the canvas, but was out on her feet, holding and ended up saved by the bell.
An elated Shields said after the fight she felt as if she were dreaming holding all four belts. “I am the Greatest Woman of All Time, give me that! Women’s boxing, we’re on fire!”
Cool and calculating, Shields measures Hammer, then nails her
Shields spent the first round sitting back and calmly observing Hammer. It was the only round Hammer won without question. From that point, Shields moved in and took Hammer’s game plan away with skill and effective aggression.
“I was calculating. I wanted to see – I was calculating. One, what is her jab like? Two, how fast is she? What can I do?” said Shelds. “I seen her jab was a little slow. I seen her right hand was telegraphing, It was a calculating first round. After that I took her apart.
Shields gave Hammer credit for a hard jab. “They weren’t lying. Her jab is off the chain.” Hammer didn’t land it often enough, and she didn’t follow it up. Shields put pressure on Hammer and landed with power and accuracy. Hammer had no answer for it. She couldn’t get past a solid defense, and she couldn’t steer clear of Shields.
Trainer John David Jackson deserves credit
The Kazakh-born German was too intimidated to throw any combinations. She could only hold and hope to find an opening. It never happened. Shields’ confidence grew round by round. She forced Hammer to eat shots to the body and the head. The wild looping punches are gone. Shields’ punch selection and accuracy have improved thanks to trainer John David Jackson, who gets plenty of credit for Shields’ performance.
In the eighth round, Shields moved in and blasted Hammer against the ropes. Hammer’s mouthpiece flew out as Shields let her fists fly. Hammer wobbled and held on to survive the round; this is where two judges credited Shields for a knockdown. Before the fight, Shields said she wouldn’t seek a knockout, but when she could taste it, she went for it.
“There were times when I hurt her, and I thought ‘I don’t want to finish her just yet.’ I thought I finished her in round eight, I thought I saw a white towel come in the ring … She was holding on when I was punching her, she held me excessively. I told myself, stay cool, stay calm. I was calculating, and I was trying to get the perfect punch to get her out of there. I mean, I did everything I wanted to do. Give me 100 to 90, I beat her every round,” said Shields.
After the loss, Hammer said she didn’t feel good and “not so fast” in the fight. “That’s boxing, everything can happen. You saw, she won. Respect to her, she’s a tough strong woman, that’s what I can say. She’s fast, she comes forward. I know that. She has fast hands … I can’t land my jab so good as I expected in the fight, But I will come back,” said Hammer.
Shields landed 112 of 387 punches thrown (29 percent) to 49 of 366 (13 percent) for Hammer. Shields dominated in power punches, with 94 of 212 landed (44 percent) to just 24 of 136 (18 percent) for Hammer. Punch output doesn’t get more dominating,
Shields: Bring on Braekhus
Shields said she’s now ready for a new challenge. “I can’t wait to see the next super fight. Whoever is in between right now, I’m the undisputed middleweight champion. I want to fight Cecilia Braekhus at 154, give me Cecilia Braekhus, the other undisputed champion at 154. Bring it on, baby!”
Braekhus of Norway, known as “The First Lady of Boxing,” is the women’s unified welterweight champion and acknowledged as the top pound for pound fighter in women’s professional boxing with a record of 35-0, 9 KOs. She is 13 years older than Shields at 37, and while only one inch shorter, she has a much smaller build. It would be the biggest possible fight in women’s boxing today.
So often, potential rivals in boxing don’t meet in the ring due to differences in their career timelines, or a failure to find a meeting place between weight classes. In some cases, a champion won’t put his or her championship at risk. Female fighters are far more willing than the men to take big risks when they get the rare opportunity to take center stage, as Shields and Hammer did. Showtime Boxing and the fans did right by them, and it’s a milestone for the women’s side of the sport.
Undercard: Franklin wins unanimous decision against Booker
American heavyweight Jermaine Franklin of Saginaw, Michigan (18-0, 13 KOs) won a unanimous decision against Rydell Booker of Detroit (25-2, 12 KOs). Scores were 99-91 and 98-92 X 2. The 38-year-old veteran Booker, who put his career on hold for 14 years while he served prison time, gave Franklin plenty to think about in the fight. Franklin made a few mistakes and got hit hard several times, but he was the busier fighter and prevailed as Booker started to lose steam near the end of the fight. It was a learning experience for Franklin. Here’s hoping he takes it to heart as he moves his career forward.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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