NEW YORK (April 24, 2018) – Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and unified women’s super middleweight Champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become a two-division world champion on Friday, June 22 live on SHOWTIME when she faces unified women’s 154-pound champion Hanna Gabriels..
…for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships at Masonic Temple in Detroit, Mich.
The SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast 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.
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 renowned 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 World 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.”
“This main event is yet another example of SHOWTIME Boxing’s commitment to delivering the best fighters in the best matchups,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION. “We have two unified champions, the top fighters in their respective divisions, facing off for a championship in a new weight class. Will Claressa Shields be as dominant as a middleweight? Can Hanna Gabriels shock the world and hand Claressa her first loss since she was an amateur in 2012? We’ll find out on June 22.”
SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION (10 p.m. ET/PT) will also feature extensive highlights of unified women’s middleweight champion Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs) as she defends her WBC & WBO titles in her U.S. debut against former world champion Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs).
If both Shields and Hammer are victorious in their 160-pound bouts on June 22, they will meet in a fall blockbuster on SHOWTIME 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!”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Salita Promotions, are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the Masonic Temple Box Office at (313) 832-7100. VIP tickets are priced at $300, ringside tickets at $125, and remaining tickets at $75, $50 and $35.
“Women’s boxing will shine brightly on June 22 in Detroit as the best fight the best,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Claressa Shields, in just her sixth fight as a professional, is once again showing her willingness to take on all challenges when she competes for a second world title against one of the best female fighters in the sport. Hanna Gabriels is a long-reigning world champion and a national hero in Costa Rica. This fight and this card, which features four women's world champions battling each other, is the definition of world-class boxing. June 22 will be their time to shine, live on SHOWTIME in Detroit.”