On April 13th Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer will unify the Women’s world middleweight titles for the first time. Sheilds is a 2-time Olympic gold medallist and holder of the WBC, WBA and IBF crowns as a pro. Hammer is the unbeaten WBO champion, a native of Kazakhstan who fights out of Germany.
Shields hails from Flint, Michigan, a place that has spawned some exceptional boxing talent in Andre Ward, Chris Byrd and the Dirrell brothers, all professional world champions at one time.
Irelands Katie Taylor who now only needs the WBC version of the women’s lightweight title to become an undisputed champion
The WBC title is held by Belgium’s Delfine Persoon who boasts a 44 fight record with only 1 defeat and should present Taylor with a stiff challenge if the bout gets made.
But it is Shields who is in the spotlight right now, and she claims she is using this fight as a way of getting more recognition for women’s boxing. Hammer will have her own views on Shields obvious belief that the German is only here to make the numbers up, but Shields is a big favourite with the odds makers.
There can be little argument that between Shields and Taylor, the stock of women’s professional boxing has risen immensely. Both dominant in the amateur code and equally proficient in the paid ranks, it is they that make headlines whenever they fight.
But should Christina Hammer be overlooked? With only 2 stoppages in her 8 fight career, Shields has a real disadvantage in power and experience against Hammer who is a veteran of 24 pro fights with no losses and 11 wins by way of stoppage.
Virginian Tori Nelson is the only opponent to have faced both Hammer and Shields, and as she lost a unanimous 10 round decision to both in consecutive bouts, it is hard to learn much from that, but, it was the only time Hammer had fought in the USA and that could be a big factor if the bout goes to the judges’ cards as expected.
One area of experience where Hammer cannot compete with her opponent is in the amateurs. With only 23 unpaid bouts, the resident of Dortmund never progressed beyond the German women’s championships where she came away with the silver medal, Shields is at the other end of the amateur spectrum with 2 x Olympic, 2 x World and a Pan American Games gold medal in a record of 78 bouts with only one loss.
It is this level of opposition that Shields faced in bouts all over the world that makes the fight odds swing in her favour. She has faced every style in boxing and knows how to adjust accordingly under the bright lights of the biggest events.
If Shields is triumphant as expected, will she be regarded as the best women’s boxer on earth? Chances are she will be, but, only until Katie Taylor meets Delfine Persoon for the last piece of lightweight
If Taylor is successful, then what?