Claressa Shields-Christina Hammer back on, to fight April 13 in Atlantic City
The most significant fight in women's boxing is back on.
Claressa Shields, who owns three middleweight world titles, and Christina Hammer, who has the other major belt, will meet for the undisputed championship on April 13 (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/PT) at the Adrian Phillips Theater at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Showtime and Salita Promotions announced on Tuesday.
Shields, a 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, and Hammer were supposed to meet for the undisputed crown on Nov. 17, at the same arena on Showtime. However, Hammer had an undisclosed medical condition, which is now resolved, that forced her to postpone the fight.
"Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer, both champions, both in their prime, are not only taking on the biggest challenge in their respective careers by meeting each other in the ring, but are breaking barriers for boxing and for women in sports," promoter Dmitriy Salita said.
While waiting for Hammer to recover, Shields (8-0, 2 KOs), 23, of Flint, Michigan, boxed twice in title defenses against Hannah Rankin on Nov. 17, and Femke Hermans on Dec. 8. Shields won both fights by shutout decision.
Hammer (24-0, 11 KOs), 28, a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Germany, returned to the ring on Saturday and knocked out Elene Sikmashvili in the second round of a nontitle bout in Berlin.
Shields, who unified two titles at super middleweight before dropping down to middleweight in 2018, and Hammer have been on a collision course for more than a year and both were very pleased the fight was rescheduled.
"I always seek the biggest challenges and set the highest goals," Shields said. "I will be ready like never before and will defeat Christina Hammer on April 13. Nothing will stop me from becoming undisputed champion and continuing my journey to carry women's boxing to never-before-seen heights. I want to be the greatest of all time and change the game forever for all women in sports, and April 13 is an important step on that road to history."
Added Hammer: "I have waited a long time for this moment. I am bigger, stronger and more experienced than Claressa Shields. I am undefeated and have been a champion for over eight years. I can't wait to show the world that I am the best and undisputed middleweight champion of the world."
The winner of Shields-Hammer will become just the second woman of the four-belt era to hold all the major world titles in one division. The other is reigning undisputed women's welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus (35-0, 9 KOs), the generally recognized No. 1 women's pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
There have been only four men to hold all four belts at the same time: reigning cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who accomplished the feat last year; junior welterweight Terence Crawford; and middleweights Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins.
Hammer, who has also won a world title at super middleweight, has held a middleweight world title since 2010 and has made 12 defenses. While she was sidelined, she was stripped of one belt. Shields won that vacant title against Rankin.
Mark Taffet, Shields' manager, made the point that two previous major women's fights talked about for years never happened -- Laila Ali-Ann Wolfe and Lucia Rijker-Christy Martin -- but the biggest women's fight that can be made now is happening.
"Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer are fighting, and it will be marked as the moment in history when women's boxing broke the barriers," he said.
Showtime has been building toward this fight and is also glad that it's back on.
"Showtime Sports has a long history of featuring the best in women's combat sports, whether it was with Laila Ali and Christy Martin in boxing, or Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey in MMA," Showtime's Gordon Hall said. "More recently, since 2016 we have featured today's elite with Claressa Shields, Christina Hammer, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. ... We have two of the best pound-for-pound female fighters in the world facing each other with all four middleweight titles at stake. It doesn't get much better than that."