Unified Women’s Super Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields and unified 154-pound champion Hanna Gabriels met face to face during the final press conference in advance of their fight to decide the IBF and WBA Women’s Middleweight World Championships this Friday live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT). (photos by Stephanie Trapp).
The SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast 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. In the telecast co-feature unified women’s middleweight champion Christina Hammer defends her WBC and WBO titles in her U.S. debut against former world champion Tori Nelson. Also, light heavyweight prospects Umar Salamov and Brian Howard will meet in a 10-round matchup that will open the tripleheader from Masonic Temple in Detroit.
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.
Here is what the principals had to say on Wednesday at the St. Regis Hotel in Detroit. Howard was not able to attend because of weather-related travel issues.
“We have a women’s main event. We have another women’s fight for world titles as the co-main event and then, we have a male fight opening up the show. I’ve never seen anything like that before.
“After my second fight, I told Mark [Taffet] what my dreams were. My goal was to fight Christina Hammer my seventh fight to take all of her belts. That was the way that I saw it going but my professional career took off very fast and that’s why I’m the greatest female fighter of all time. I say that because where I’m from in Flint, Michigan, people have dreams all the time but we’re not given that opportunity. I was in a dark place from the age of five until I was 17.
“For someone to take away my accomplishments and say that I’m not the greatest of all time, you have to show me. When I’m in the gym training two times a day, I think about what I went through and what my family goes through and I push myself. When somebody says that they’re going to beat me, it angers me. I get mad and I punch the bag until it falls. When you tell me that I’m not the greatest woman of all time, I really hope Hanna has trained hard because it’s not going to be an easy task. I really hope that Christina Hammer has trained hard because in the future it’s not going to be an easy task either. To beat me, you’re going to have to kill me. I’m not going to go down.
“I’m the fastest woman to win a world title. I did it in my fourth fight. I was 21 years old and I was coming off winning two Olympic Gold Medals. I whipped this body into shape. In the Olympics, you fight four two-minute rounds. June 22, we’re fighting 10 two-minute rounds. I’ve been pro for a year and a half so you can’t tell me I haven’t worked hard to get to where I am. When I say that I am the greatest woman of all time, I’ve proved it. I have the belts. I have the gold medals. There’s more footage of me boxing out there than any other woman. Every fight, I improve. Just because somebody has been professional more than me, it’s not going to make it any easier for you. You have to come in there and you have to show me. I’m fighting the best and if anybody ever stands up to me, man or woman, I’ll never lose. I can’t wait until Friday night.”
“I think Claressa is a great fighter. I think she has accomplished a lot. I wish that I got the chance to go to the Olympics but when I started women’s boxing wasn’t an Olympic sport. I didn’t have that chance and I’m just happy that so many women are now able to dream about that and accomplish that.
“I only have one amateur fight and people laugh at me for that. I didn’t have the same opportunities coming up in Costa Rica. I didn’t have that privilege and it’s very difficult. I didn’t have the opportunity to fight anybody so I turned professional and here we are. My path has been difficult and unexpected. Many people thought I was too old by the time I got started. It’s been an amazing journey and I came prepared for this fight. When you are a true competitor and you like to push yourself to the fullest, then you like great competition. I am glad that Claressa and I will be facing each other on Friday. I hope everybody enjoys the fight.”