Fightful Boxing Newsletter (2/21): Tyson Fury To ESPN, Billy Joe Saunders Goes To 168, Joshua vs. Miller

Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer Finalized:

Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer will finally get their fight to crown women's boxing's best middleweight underway this spring.

Showtime announced that Shields and Hammer will fight for the undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF middleweight titles on April 13. The fight will headline a Showtime-televised card from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The two champions were originally scheduled to fight in November 2018, but it was postponed due to a now-resolved medical issue suffered by Hammer. Hammer, the current WBO champion, was moved to WBC Champion in Recess as a result of her medical issue and the WBC title became vacant.

Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, would go on to win a fight against Hannah Rankin on a Matchroom Boxing on DAZN card in November to unify the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. Shields fought three weeks later on HBO's final boxing card of 2018, retaining her titles with a unanimous decision win over Femke Hermans on December 8.

Hammer has held a world title since 2010 and is undefeated in 24 pro bouts with one no contest. Hammer returned to the ring on February 9 in her home country in Germany, easily defeating Elene Sikmashvili less than a minute into the second round of a non-title fight.

As of this writing, there are two other active undisputed champions in boxing today: cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk and long-time welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus. The last time an undisputed middleweight champion was crowned regardless of gender was Jermain Taylor in 2005. The winner of Shields vs. Hammer will join Terence Crawford, Bernard Hopkins, Taylor, Usyk and Braekhus as the only boxers in history to unify the WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF titles in any weight class.

The fight could potentially be an under-the-radar ratings success for Showtime given that Shields’ last fight on the network was the most-watched fight on Showtime that isn’t a part of its “Showtime Championship Boxing” series. With the proper buildup, it could potentially send Shields into the next level of being a star in boxing.

But the story of an undisputed title fight being made so easily is one that should not be ignored. It would have been easy for one side to think of a reason for not doing the fight and then boxing fans miss out on a potentially big matchup. While women’s boxing may not be at the same level of popularity as the men, it is nice to see big-time fights get made and it is something that their male counterparts should take note.

The rivalry between Shields and Hammer is a genuine one and given how much the sport is always in need of a great rivalry, this fight could pick up a lot of steam during the buildup. With a press conference in New York scheduled for February 26, Showtime is looking to pull out all the stops to ensure that this fight ends up a big success.

Should it result in a big success for Showtime, it could give the network some incentive to give the green light on a rumored all-women’s boxing card that New York promoter Lou DiBella, a long-time advocate of women’s boxing, is planning for this spring.

The winner of this fight also remains a part of the conversation for best pound-for-pound fighter in women’s boxing. With a crowded field that includes undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor and seven-division champion Amanda Serrano gunning for that top spot, the Shields-Hammer winner would make a strong case to be the No. 1 boxer today.

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