Shields wins decision over Gabriels; Hammer next? | AP sports

Claressa Shields recovers from first round knockdown, defeats Hanna Gabriels

Gabriels is a fighter not to be overlooked and will not be severely outweighed on the night due to her similar stature with Shields. She popped her with a left hand, but Gabriels returned the favor.

"We have a women's main event".

The contest represents a step up of the opponent calibre for both fighters involved. I have to beat my opponent, beat the eyes to make [fans] like women's boxing. But Gabriels was far from done. Shields appeared to have the upper hand by the end of the sixth round, but the 23-year-old from Flint had to work hard against Gabriels, and there were plenty of wild exchanges to keep the crowd engaged. At one point Castillo knocked her down because of this error, but as the fight progressed Gabriels adjusted and began using more lateral movement and pivots when moving in and out of the pocket.

The two time Olympic champion would return to Detroit for the first time since her August 2017 knockout win over Nikki Adler. It made for an entertaining bout, exactly what women's professional boxing needs to secure its rightful place in the sport. The arrival of Christina has always been awaited in the United States, who was scheduled to feature earlier this year on the same bill as Claressa Shields v Nelson in Januray.

"She's very fast and she has a lot of power", said Gabriels after the fight. "She's a smart kid". We have four significant title fights on the card. "Out of respect to Tori Nelson, I'm focused on this fight only". "I gave it all". Gabriels, meanwhile, would love nothing more than to spoil that ascent and add a couple world titles to already impressive resume. "This is a real opportunity for me, and I'm going to take full advantage of it".

Going against a powerhouse like Shields, it would seem counterintuitive Gabriels to stay in the pocket, but she can still move circularly while staying relatively close to center of the ring. "The first round, fourth round and the eighth round, other than that she didn't hit me with no head shots". The 27-year-old German is known for her fighting ability and attractive looks.

If there's a difference between the current landscape of women's boxing and the last time the sport was marketable 20 years ago, when fighters like Laila Ali and Christy Martin were regularly featured on television, Shields believes today's fighters are more talented and - most importantly - more willing to prove themselves. I may have got put on my ass, but it wasn't over. "Everyone else I fought has been former world champions but she's a three-time world champion to date". I've prepared well and I'm in shape. Hammer routed Tori Nelson to retain her belts in the co-feature.

Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs), who defends her titles in Friday's co-main event against former Shields victim Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs), showcased her much-hyped combination of beauty and brawn past year when she entered the ring following Shields' first title win and engaged in trash talk. Judges' scores were 100-90 and 99-91 X 2 for Hammer. The 35-year old has often fought in Costa Rica and Latin America, fights in the United States for the first time as a professional.

Her opponent has such an aggressive style of fighting that any movement backwards or away from the action will tell Shields that Gabriels is ready to fold. Nelson has never been knocked out, but Hammer will put her chin to the test. She resembles a young Wladimir Klitschko, fighting tall at 5-foot-11 and with the same steely discipline.

Hammer admitted she would have liked a knockout, but it wasn't to be. "I tried every second, that's boxing". Everything can happen, and you have to be careful till the bell, that's all. I box better than I play football. "Just her skills and how she performed, that's not how a pound-for-pound performs and a pound-for-pound doesn't get dropped".

Hammer vs. Shields is being built up as a future match-up. Shields had her best round of the fight in the fifth round as Gabriels was breathing very heavily from the mouth and had poor body language that you usually do not want to see from a fighter in the ring.

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