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Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer is the grudge match women’s boxing needs



A world champion in two weight classes after just six professional fights. After accomplishing such a historic feat this past weekend in Detroit against Hanna Gabriels, Claressa Shields asked us to name another fighter who’s done it quicker than her. Nobody could name one because, well, it simply hasn’t happened.

Vasyl Lomachenko was the first name that came to mind. But it took “Hi-Tech” just a little longer and he already had a loss on his record. Not that it doesn’t make the his accomplishments (he’s now a three-divsion champion after just 12 fights) any less extraordinary. Shields just did it a little bit quicker. And not enough people are talking about it. That’s about to change.

After bouncing back from adversity in a major way by winning every round following a first round knockdown against Gabriels, a highly respected and decorated Costa Rican, Shields will look to unify her middleweight titles with the undefeated Christina Hammer out of Germany later this year. It’s a fight that is sure to get everyone talking about women’s boxing because it’s the grudge match that it needs; two women with contrasting styles that simply just do not like one another.

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME Boxing

“Hammer is always disrespecting me,” Shields told us after defeating Gabriels. “She’s think it’s ok. She wants to steal my shine. I don’t go over there in Germany and jump in the ring when she wins a world title. She comes over here — she’s been at 3 of my fights — sitting ringside, jumping in the ring, talking shit. When the hell you gonna sign a contract so me and you can fight?”

Showtime featured a grudge match on their airwaves back in 2012 with another undefeated former Olympian that wasn’t afraid to speak her mind; one that worked wonders and broke down barriers for women in mixed martial arts. It was a world title match between Miesha Tate and a girl named Ronda Rousey under the Strikeforce banner. And like Rousey before her, Shields is already opening doors for other females in boxing.

Shields became the first woman to headline a televised boxing event last year and has now headlined multiple on Showtime, forcing HBO to follow suit by broadcasting a fight between Cecilia Brækhus and Kali Reis on a Gennady Golovkin card earlier this year. She’s become a trailblazer and again, she’s only six fights deep into her professional career.

The melee that took place between Shields and Hammer in the closing moments of the show will work wonders when it comes to the promo reels that will hype their inevitable upcoming contest. The one questions that remains is location.

Hammer made her US debut in the co-main event of Friday night’s card where she would dominate a very durable Tori Nelson from bell to bell. Hammer revealed after the fight that she isn’t interested in fighting Shields in front of her dedicated fanbase in Detroit.

“It doesn’t matter where we fight at, she’s going home with the L. She thinks that my fans aren’t going come wherever we fight? They’re still gonna yell and talk shit to her. I’m gonna yell and talk shit. She’s gotta deal with it. Period,” the two-time Olympic gold medalist explained

Both Hammer and Shields are both currently signed with Salita Promotions. So while Hammer may not be interested in fighting Shields in Detroit, a deal could still surely work out as long as it is beneficial to her financially and the language in the contract involves a rematch at a neutral site, or even on her home soil, should she win.

The Detroit area is still very important to Shields, a native of Flint, Michigan. There aren’t many cities that have undergone as much stress as Flint with the ongoing water crisis that is still a major issue despite conflicting reports. It must be noted that Shields donated a portion of her fight purse from last Friday to Flint, a city that is still being asked to refrain from using local water due to lead contamination.

“Well, I am Flint. Michigan lives deep down inside of me so I knew that they were gonna be as strong as I was. And I knew that I wasn’t just fighting for myself inside the ring. I was fighting for Flint, my family my friends, Michigan and the USA. I always know what I stand for and I know at the end of day I’m a champion at heart,” Shields made clear following her fight with Gabriels, a fight that has been getting national praise from boxing pundits around the world.

Detroit was on pins and needles after Shields got dropped by a Gabriels uppercut in the first frame inside of the Masonic Temple.

“I had some many emotions,” Shields said talking about the early knockdown. “When I fell I was like — oh shit — it’s about to go down. I gotchoo. That was a 10-8 round for her. So champ,” she explained to herself, “what you have to do is you have to win every round.” And she did just that.

“I knew I was well prepared. There wasn’t a thought in my mind when I get knocked down not to get back up. My thought was, let’s show her that if we go all ten I bet you can’t knock me down again — I bet you can’t finish me. And I knew she couldn’t. She started dying down, holding me, headbutting me more than one time,” Shields revealed following the fight. The gash on her forehead and the video evidence backed up her claim.

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME Boxing

In the end, it all comes back to Hammer. The fight that Showtime and Shields have wanted from the beginning. The competition that Hammer has been craving for years. Is the bad blood between these two just for show? Or, maybe it’s the result of a mutual respect between two competitors at the top of their game? Although they may be sworn enemies, they know that the biggest payday of their respective careers will come when they stand across from one another inside of the squared circle. That said, if you talk to Shields, it doesn’t sound like these two will be shaking hands anytime soon. As a matter of fact, she’s downright irritated by the very sight of her future foe.

“Hopefully it’s next,” Shields reiterated after the fight. “I don’t need no rest. I could’ve whooped her ass tonight. She’s lucky I wasn’t able to grab her. Her and her boyfriend — I’m just sick of that whole team. I really got a short fuse for her. Even when I saw her all week, it just irritated me.”

A fight between Shields and Hammer will only further catapult both women to stardom and help open the floodgates for up and comers who have trained for years in hopes of reaching a common goal.

Watching both women do work in Detroit reminded me of that night in Columbus when Rousey and Tate made magic inside of the cage back in 2012. The only difference is, like Rousey and Tate, Shields and Hammer will need to share the ring with one another to achieve that same effect.

The build begins now. Where will you be when their two worlds collide?