ShoBox Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels, Christina Hammer vs Tori Nelson, and Umar Salamov vs Brian Howard
By Kid Hersh
Showtime ShowBox Championship Boxing from the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, featured two female championship matches for the first time.
First up on the card was Umar Salamov (20-1, 15KO's) vs Brian Howard (13-1, 10KO's). The first round saw Salamov coming forward and Howard fighting off the back foot while using his jab and looking for openings. In the second round, it was more of the same until in the final minute of the round Howard landed a right hand that buzzed Salamov, causing him to back up and then clinch for the remainder of the round. The fight turned into a fairly uneventful one, where both men had a low output going. Salamov could not seem to hurt Howard, but he seemed to be controlling the action a little bit more simply by coming forward. Meanwhile, Howard could hurt Salamov with right hands but he was not throwing very many of them and when he did buzz Salamov he would never follow it up. Then, suddenly in the eighth round, the fight was over when Salamov landed a series of right hands that put Howard down and out for the count. Not a super impressive victory from Salamov here, but a good finish. I am just unsure it was totally a great finish or more so Howard being a bit mentally finished in the fight.
Christina Hammer (22-0, 11KO's) vs Tori Nelson (17-1-3, 2KO's). In the first round, Hammer established her gigantic height and reach advantage right away. She was hitting Nelson at will and not getting touched herself, showing excellent offense and defense. Hammer continued giving Nelson a boxing lesson while Nelson was trying to work her way throughout the fight but just was not able to do any damage on Hammer. It was a sparring match for Hammer, who gave Nelson quite the boxing lesson but she never really hurt her or put her in trouble. She did, however, show great offense and defense in winning the shutout unanimous decision.
Main event time featuring Claressa Shields (5-0, 2KO's) vs Hanna Gabriels (18-1-1, 11KO's). This is a very rare fight in which the 168lb champion is coming down in weight and the 154lb champion is going up in weight to meet at 160lbs for the vacant WBA middleweight title. In the first round we had a stunner as the fight got off to a very quick start, both fighters swinging for the fences. Shields went down for the first time in her career from a right uppercut and left hook. Shields did not look so much hurt as caught by surprise as she rose and made it through the round. In the second round, Shields was still coming forward but eating punches from Gabriels in order to land her own. It looked like Gabriels was the harder puncher in this one but Shields was starting to become the ring general. The women were really moving their hands, throwing lots of punches, and as we saw in the second round Shields was really pressing forward and putting her punches together more. She was getting countered and missing at times, however, which made it a tough round to score in the third. Gabriels work rate went down further in the fourth round as she seemed to be letting the fight slip out of her grasp after the very good first round. Each and every round Gabriels work rate is dwindling a little bit and she doesn't appear to be as into the fight bit by bit. Shields had her best round of the fight in the fifth round as she appeared to take the heart straight from Gabriels, who was breathing from the mouth heavily and has horrible body language. Gabriels showed that she is a champion, however, as she hit a second wind and started pressing forward in the coming rounds. She had some good moments but also was walking into shots at times. Both women were completely exhausted from the fast pace they set at the beginning of the fight but it was Shields that was still throwing the little bit cleaner and straight shots as Gabriels looked very tired and a bit sloppy, although she was still trying her best. It was a great fight to the finish, with both women ending the fight still swinging away. 9-92, 98-91, 97-92 for the UD to Shields