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Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels set for June 22

The two will fight for a pair of vacant middleweight belts, with Christina Hammer on the card, too.

Claressa Shields v Szilvia Szaados Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Claressa Shields’ next fight is set, and on paper, it’s the toughest of her pro career to date.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist will move down to middleweight for the bout on June 22, facing Hanna Gabriels for the vacant WBA and IBF titles at Detroit’s Masonic Temple, live on Showtime.

“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.”

Shields (5-0, 2 KO) is coming off of a 10-round decision win over Tori Nelson on January 12, where she successfully defended the IBF and WBC super middleweight titles with a shutout victory.

Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KO) is a 35-year-old veteran from Costa Rica who will be coming up in weight from 154 pounds, where she holds the WBA and WBO titles. She last fought in October 2017, beating Oxandia Castillo by decision. She also briefly held the WBO welterweight title several years ago.

“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.”

The card will also feature the return of Christina Hammer (22-0, 10 KO), who will be defending her WBC and WBO middleweight titles against the aforementioned Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KO). Hammer has been positioned as a potential Shields opponent for a future date, and pairing the two on the same card could lead to that coming by the end of this year.

“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!”

“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!”

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