Hammer Fight Cancelled
By Phil Woolever
Friday’s Claressa Shields – Tori Nelson match will still be another landmark night in the current female boxing surge, but the card lost a considerable live attraction when WBC / WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer, 22-0 (10KO), was forced to withdraw from her featured undercard bout.
An imperfect storm ranging from Mother Nature to governmental guidelines prevented the future rivals from fighting on the same card to promote their upcoming gala, in which WBC/IBF titlist Shields, 4-0 (2KO), will drop down a weight division to challenge for Hammer’s belts.
Seeing both women fight might have provided fans and handicappers a better idea of what to expect during a planned mid-year clash and subsequent rematch.
“My fight got cancelled because we couldn’t get the work visa in time,” said Hammer. “I feel so bad, and sorry for my team, my fans and all the fantastic people who always support me.”
“I am really happy with the opportunities and televised fights I’ll get from Salita Promotions, so I am in top shape and was really ready to give the US a great show. I was disappointed but I stay strong and move forward. Sometimes (stuff) happens.”
Hammer’s manager Harald Pia elaborated on the situation.
“Christine needed a P1 Visa to fight in the United States, and to apply for that you need a signed contract with a US promoter,” explained Pia. “We signed the contract on December 18th, which normally would have been no problem. The application was processed in New York, but because of the holidays and especially the extreme weather, we didn’t get the visa back in time. But we’re past that now and looking to the future.”
The chance to watch both women box on the same night added to the event’s luster, but that’s not to say the measuring stick would be precise. There was probably a vast difference in the strength of opponents. Shields is facing the formidable Nelson, while Hammer was set to meet, on and off, respectable but undistinguished Lisa Noel Garland.
It is hard to find gambling lines on Hammer – Shields, but Shields will probably be a solid favorite by fight time. Just how much of a favorite remains to be determined, due to the wide difference in professional experience.
Shields’ rapid rise after Olympic glory is simmering more and more as a mainstream sports topic.
Hammer was 7-0 (5KOs) when she won her first title fight, for the vacant WBO middleweight belt, with a wide decision over tough Teresa Perozzi.
Hammer added WBC laurels to her resume with another wide win against Kali Reis in November 2016. Hammer also has dominant decisions over Jessica Balogun and Mikaela Lauren.
The big question mark comes from Hammer’s fight against Anne Sophie Mathis in July 2014. As they rumbled during round 5, Mathis held Hammer and slammed five rights to the side and back of Hammer’s head. Hammer collapsed and Mathis was disqualified, but the result was later changed to a “no contest.”
The image that stands out from that fight is of Hammer, stunned on the canvas. Shields is going to make her rumble.
Hammer wasn’t going to be on the live Showtime broadcast, but her fight highlights were definitely set to be replayed. Hammer will be at Turning Stone for the promotional introductions and stare-down photo ops.
“I’m just waiting for the fight in March, where I will defend my titles and finally make my United States debut,” reflected Hammer. “I imagine that I will stay in the US longer before my next fight and do some training there. Then in the summer will be the big fight against Shields. I like the mood about big events in the USA. It could be the biggest female fight ever.”
It’s nice for fans to know that Shields – Hammer is still on schedule and very likely to be one of the sport’s most meaningful encounters of 2018.
It will be even nicer to actually see them both in action.
Phil Woolever is based in Germany and is a regular contributor to: thePrizefighters.com