BERLIN (Reuters) - The unifying world middleweight fight between two-time American Olympic champion Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer will change the face of women’s boxing, the German said in preparation of the biggest bout of her career.
The 28-year-old Hammer, a multiple world champion over two weight divisions, is undefeated in her ten-year pro career with 24 victories from 24 fights, but knows the bout against Shields is as big as they get.
The main event on Saturday night in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall with television coverage and a big crowd, the fight is billed as the biggest in the history of women’s boxing and Shields is a worthy opponent.
Unbeaten in her eight bouts and with two Olympic golds from London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Games under her belt, the aggressive 24-year-old Shields has three of the four belts and is seen as a slight favourite on home soil.
“I think the world of women’s boxing will change after this,” Hammer told Reuters. “It is a super fight. This big fight will push women’s boxing up. (Broadcaster) Showtime really believes in this fight. We are fighting Saturday evening now.”
“Afterwards fans will be more informed about women’s boxing,” she said.
Publicity aside, Hammer is eager to confirm her world champion credentials in a fight where all four belts — WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC — will be up for grabs.
“I feel very good and I am here to win it,” she said in a telephone interview from New York. “I am in my best shape. It is my time.”
“I have been a world champion for 10 years. I have worked hard and the time has come where you face a great opponent.”
The soft-spoken Hammer is known for her patience in the ring as she gradually wears her opponents down, as opposed to Shields’ explosive style.
“She is a very strong opponent. She knows what she can do in the ring. I have studied her and analysed her. But this is not the Olympics with three rounds.”
“With 24 (professional) fights, time and experience is on my side. I have to keep her at a distance if she comes close. I have to stay cool and not fall for her gimmicks and show my own style.”
While there is a bigger spotlight on women’s boxing, the purses for the bouts between men and women are far from similar, with some men’s fights commanding hundreds of millions of dollars compared to tens of thousands of dollars for the big fights in women’s boxing.
“That is still something that needs to be done. Not much has been done on that yet,” Hammer said. “We as women have to get this. But ultimately it depends on the fans. If the fans watch then you earn more money.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty