Hanna Gabriels has waited for this moment to come back around for nearly five years.

The opportunity of a lifetime slipped through the fingertips of the heavy-handed Costa Rican, who floored Claressa Shields barely a minute into their June 2018 middleweight title fight. Shields rose from the canvas and proceeded to win nearly every remaining round en route to a ten-round unanimous decision at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.

It marked the U.S. debut for Gabriels (21-2-1, 12KOs), who admittedly never gave herself the best chance at victory. On that night, she regretted the moment she let Shields back into the fight. In the nearly five years that followed, the four-division titlist came to the realization that she never gave herself a chance to win.

“What she has done is great—but it doesn’t determine or define what I’m going to do,” Gabriels vowed during a press conference held in Detroit to formally announce their rematch. “When I first fought her, I came to Detroit knowing if I didn’t knock her down, I wouldn’t win. “I came to Detroit knowing that I didn’t have the experience she had. I came to Detroit thinking she was stronger than me.

I came to Detroit thinking I wasn’t as strong. All of those things were wrong. Strength in boxing doesn’t matter and I’m about to show you that.”

Shields (13-0, 2KOs) and Gabriels will meet for a second time, with Shields’ undisputed middleweight championship at stake in their June 3 DAZN main event from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The event takes place less than a mile from the site of their first fight and roughly an hour from Shield’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

The journey could not be any longer for Costa Rica’s Gabriels, both metaphorically on that June 2018 and literally upon arriving at Tuesday’s press conference. Gabriels was apologetic for her late entrance after several delays that resulted in more than 30 hours’ worth of travel time just to attend the session.

Gabriels has not lost since her first fight with Shields, but also hasn’t fought very much. Monday marked two years to the day of her last fight, though one where she became a three- and four-division titlist. Gabriels won the WBA light heavyweight and WBC heavyweight belts in a second-round knockout of Mexico’s Martha Lara on April 17, 2021. It was one of just three bouts since her defeat to Shields, but she is not worried about being plagued by inactivity.

In fact, just the opposite is true. Gabriels, who turned 40 in January, insisted that she went into their first fight dismissive of her own chances to beat a stud boxer like Shields, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and now three-division champion who at 28 is in the heart of her prime.

That losing mentality was ditched long ago, or so she suggests—and which she is willing to showcase on June 3.

“In the last two years, I discovered things I didn’t know I have and focused on the things that matter,” insisted Gabriels. “She has experience that I didn’t have in my amateur career. That used to make me make a lot of experience. It makes me focus.

“My boxing is much better now. I want to measure it up with the best and see what the outcome is going to be.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox