By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – The idea initially was to assign three female judges and a female referee to the Claressa Shields-Christina Hammer fight.
When one of the fighters’ handlers objected to one of the three female judges suggested by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, they settled on a male judge, Guido Cavalleri, to replace her. Italy’s Cavalleri will join two female judges – Philadelphia’s Lynne Carter and New York’s Robin Taylor – at ringside Saturday night to judge the Shields-Hammer middleweight title unification fight in Atlantic City.
A female referee, Sparkle Lee, also has been assigned to work what has been promoted as the biggest fight in women’s boxing history.
Germany’s Hammer doesn’t care whether the judges are male or female, as long as she has a legitimate shot to beat a two-time Olympic gold medalist from America in the United States.
“Before the fight, I have to be able to win this fight,” Hammer told BoxingScene.com. “I have to feel I can win this fight. Not that it’s clear before the fight who’s the winner. It’s very important that it’s clear and neutral, that it’s real sport, no crazy decisions.”
The 28-year-old Hammer admits she feels she must win what figure to be competitive rounds very decisively to beat Shields in Shields’ home country.
“I have to give more than [I have] every [other] day,” Hammer said. “I think it has to be a clear decision because I’m a guest here in the U.S. She’s from USA; I’m from Germany. But I don’t feel like she’s a champion and I’m not, that she gets more credit than me – no.”
Shields (8-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, is an approximate 4-1 favorite to defeat Hammer (24-0, 11 KOs, 1 NC), of Dortmund, Germany. They’ll fight for Shields’ IBF, WBA and WBC 160-pound championships and Hammer’s WBO middleweight crown, which she has owned since October 2010.
Showtime will air Shields-Hammer as the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast from Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom. This three-bout show also will include 10-round heavyweight fights that’ll match Sweden’s Otto Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs) against Baltimore’s Nick Kisner (21-4-1, 6 KOs), and Jermaine Franklin (17-0, 13 KOs), of Saginaw, Michigan, versus Detroit’s Rydell Booker (25-1, 12 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.