By: Sean Crose
Claressa “T Rex” Shileds was expecting to have a major bout this weekend against Christina Hammer. That bout, however, fell through. Therefore, the 6-0 Shields will be facing the 5-2 Hannah Rankin this Saturday at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas, headlining a card that will be aired live by the DAZN streaming service. Shields will be defending her IBF and WBA world middleweight titles. The WBC belt, formerly held by Hammer, will also be at stake. “The WBC crown was in the hands of Christina Hammer,” promoter Matchroom Boxing claims, “whom Shields was slated to meet this weekend in a unification blockbuster for all four belts, with the German also owning the WBO belt.”
“I’m thrilled,” Shields says, “to be able to continue my road to undisputed this weekend…Christina has first in line when I win the belt on Saturday, it’s not a fight that we are looking to avoid. If she’d been fit to face me then that would be the fight this weekend. I wanted that fight bad.” Shields claims she knew something was amiss with Hammer, who had to step out of the fight due to a medical condition that hasn’t been disclosed to the public.
“I felt that when we did the phone interview and we announced that we were fighting,” says Shields, “I sensed in her tone that something was wrong, that she wasn’t as excited as I was about the fight. She didn’t seem happy, and as a champion I sensed something was wrong and I was right as she was sick. As soon as she comes back, we can fight.” Shields, however, is not going to take Rankin lightly. “Hannah has been Christina’s toughest sparring partner,” says Shields of this weekend’s opponent, “so I am going to make her pay just for that. It’s not a let down for me, just getting in the ring and being able to fight is a joy to me, it makes me happy. Hannah has turned down another fight to take this shot and we’re fighting as a co-main event on DAZN, so it should be fun.”
Shields is reportedly willing to go up to super middleweight, or even down to super welterweight, in order to land fights. “None of the girls at 168lbs,” says Shields, “want to fight me. We’ve offered the fight to Alicia many times and fights to so many of them, they’ve all said I’m too big and they are too little, then they say we don’t offer good money – but we have TV and we’re offering good money for sure.” Shields is even open to fighting welterweight Cecilia Braekhus at a catchweight.
“I think I can go as low as 154lbs,” says Shields, “and I would do that to fight Cecilia for the pound-for-pound spot. I don’t want to go to 147lbs as I would only be able to win the fight and not go on to defend the belts. She can keep her belts, I just want the pound-for-pound spot – she can have the belts and be number two, I’m number one. We can meet at 154lbs, that would be huge.”