By Keith Idec
Christina Hammer suspects Claressa Shields is overlooking Hanna Gabriels.
Shields and Hammer are supposed to fight next if Shields beats Gabriels and Hammer tops Tori Nelson on Friday night in Detroit. Germany’s Hammer claims that while she is fully focused on conquering Nelson, Shields isn’t taking the same serious approach to her middleweight title fight.
“I think Shields is looking forward to fighting me and is not so focused on Gabriels, like she should be,” Hammer said. “I am focused only on Nelson and that’s who I prepared to beat. After this fight, we can talk about Hanna or Shields.”
Shields beat Nelson by unanimous decision in her last fight, a 10-rounder January 12 in Verona, New York. In Gabriels, Shields says she’ll face her toughest opponent in six professional fights.
The 23-year-old Shields (5-0, 2 KOs), a Flint, Michigan, native who won two Olympic gold medals, has moved down from 168 pounds to 160 for her fight against Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs). Costa Rica’s Gabriels, 35, has moved up from 154 pounds to 160 to challenge Shields for the vacant IBF and WBA middleweight crowns.
The 27-year-old Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs) will defend her WBC and WBO middleweight championships against Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs), of Ashburn, Virginia.
“Right now, I’m only focused on my next fight and Tori is my target,” Hammer said. “Whatever Claressa does, I’m not focused on that. After the fight, I’m looking forward to fighting her, but at the moment it’s only Hammer and Nelson.”
Nelson, 41, lost every round against Shields on the scorecards of all three judges (100-90, 100-90, 100-90).
“I saw Tori fight against Claressa,” Hammer said. “Tori is a tough fighter who likes to come forward and land some punches from the outside. I’m a longtime champion and I know how to fight against these types of fighters who come forward.”
Showtime will air the Shields-Gabriels and Hammer-Nelson bouts as part of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader from Masonic Temple on Friday night. A 10-round light heavyweight encounter that’ll match Russia’s Umar Salamov (20-1, 15 KOs) against Atlanta’s Brian Howard (13-1, 10 KOs) also will be televised by Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.