What to Watch: June 22-23

By Caryn A. Tate on June 22, 2018
What to Watch: June 22-23
Hammer vs. Shields is being built up as a future match-up. (Stephanie Trapp/Showtime)

Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why. Here’s this week’s rundown…

Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why. Here’s this week’s rundown:

Friday, June 22
10:00pm PT/ET - Showtime
Claressa Shields vs. Hanna Gabriels; Christina Hammer vs. Tori Nelson; Umar Salamov vs. Brian Howard

My pick this week is the excellent match-up featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields (5-0, 2 KOs), who is now also a world champion at super middleweight. For this fight, Shields is moving down to middleweight to fight Gabriels (18-1-1, 11 KOs) for the vacant IBF and WBA world titles.

Gabriels is a world champion at junior middleweight and is moving up for this opportunity. She’s a very good fighter with solid footwork and an athletic style. Despite her mobility, she seems to have a lot of pop, as her opponents don’t just walk through her shots (and 11 of her 18 wins are by stoppage). But it’s her footwork that really catches the eye, as well as the rare and vital skill of making adjustments during the course of a fight. In her last match, a rematch with Oxandia Castillo, Gabriels made a couple of mistakes early such as moving in and out of the pocket in a straight line. At one point Castillo knocked her down because of this error, but as the fight progressed Gabriels adjusted and began using more lateral movement and pivots when moving in and out of the pocket. It’s all the more impressive that Gabriels only had one amateur fight. She must have some serious natural ability as well as put in a ton of hard work as a professional to achieve the results she has with no amateur career to speak of.

Shields is an excellent fighter. Her fundamentals are superb: her feet are almost never out of place, her hand speed is a thing of beauty, her punch selection and placement are on point, and her ring intelligence is excellent. While she hasn’t been challenged as much as we might like as a pro, that’s certainly not her fault, and it’s not for lack of trying from her opponents. Tori Nelson has probably given her the most difficult fight yet—a not only did Nelson go the distance, but she’s a smart and experienced fighter who changed the range, timed Shields early, and made things generally more difficult for Claressa than most of her opponents have been able to do.

Despite Gabriels moving up in weight for this bout, I suspect her athleticism, intelligence, and natural ability will give Shields a challenge as well. While Shields is also highly athletic, we haven’t seen her need to use her legs much since she turned pro (though she did frequently need to use them in the amateurs, and she did so well). She’s coming down in weight, albeit just by eight pounds, so we don’t know how she’ll fare with a bigger weight cut than she’s accustomed to. So it should be an interesting match-up.

It’s a shame this fight isn’t getting quite as much attention as the potential future match-up between Shields and Hammer (who fights in the co-main on Friday). I believe Shields vs. Gabriels may be the better fight, and Gabriels may give Shields more of a challenge than Hammer.

In the co-main, Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs) defends her WBC and WBO world titles against Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs). As stated earlier, Hammer vs. Shields is being built up as a potential future match-up, provided both fighters can win on Friday. Nelson, despite her age of 41 and 10% knockout ratio, is a good fighter whose only loss was to Shields. Hammer is a solid European-styled fighter with a lot of height (she’s 5’11”) on Nelson, as well as a good jab.

In the first fight of the card, Salamov (20-1, 15 KOs) faces Howard (13-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round light heavyweight bout.

Saturday, June 23
11:30am PT/2:30pm ET - BoxNation (UK) / ESPN+ (US)
Martin Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs) vs. Roberto Garcia (41-3, 24 KOs) - 10 rounds, middleweight; Josh Kelly (6-0, 4 KOs) vs. Kris George (14-1, 8 KOS) - 12 rounds, welterweight

Channel 5 (UK)
Josh Taylor (12-0, 11 KOs) vs. Viktor Postol (29-1, 12 KOs) - 12 rounds, super lightweight

5:00pm PT/8:00pm ET - ESPN2
Vergil Ortiz (9-0, 9 KOs) vs. Juan Carlos Salgado (27-8-1, 16 KOs) - 10 rounds, super lightweight

8:00pm PT/11:00pm ET - ESPN+ (US) /Azteca (Mexico)
Miguel Berchelt (33-1, 29 KOs) vs. Jonathan Victor Barros (41-5-1, 22 KOs) - 12 rounds, WBC super featherweight world title

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Balaamsass 09:14am, 06/22/2018

    Years and years ago when there were actually were some white fighters in boxing…..believe it or not…. there used to be a saying…“Bet on the black guy”! In the present day when women fight it should be ” Bet on the girl with the highest level of testosterone”! Senor tetumbo came on here taliking about marshmellows and testosterone levels….the winnner here will be the one with the highest level of testosterone…..Shields…..who has a higher level than most of the males including tetumbo that visit this site who in turn have higher levels of estrogen than Claressa does…guaranteed!

  2. Kid Blast 08:55am, 06/22/2018

    IMO Shields is a bit overrated. Layla is the ONE

    As for The First Lady, ugh,

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