Undisputed Middleweight World Champion and Michigan’s own Claressa Shields went face-to-face Tuesday with four-division world champion Hanna Gabriels at a press conference in Detroit to preview the return of big-time boxing to city on Saturday, June 3.
The first boxing event at Little Caesars Arena will be streamed live on DAZN in the U.S. and Canada.
Tickets for the live event are on sale now and can be purchased through 313Presents.com, Ticketmaster.com and the XFINITY Box Office at Little Caesars Arena. The event is promoted by Salita Promotions and 313 Presents.
The only two-division undisputed champion in the four-belt era, Shields will continue to make history at the home of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings.
The Flint, Michigan native will be rematching Gabriels after originally facing her in 2018. In their previous fight, Gabriels put Shields on the canvas in round one with a vicious right uppercut-left hook combination.
It remains the only time Shields has ever been knocked down as a professional or amateur. Although she recovered to win an exciting unanimous decision, Shields will look for an emphatic ending to their rivalry on June 3.
On hand at the press conference supporting Shields were a who’s-who of Detroit boxing legends, champions and contenders including: Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Bronco McKart, Tony Harrison and more. Here is what the press conference participants had to say Tuesday:
“This is a dream come true for me. Born and raised in Flint, you know I’ve come to many games here to watch the Pistons play. Me and my grandmother watched the Pistons play on TV when they won the championship and now to actually be here fighting in front of all these fans…This was unheard of in women’s boxing when I turned pro.
“I’m fighting here in Detroit in front of all my family and all my friends. Hanna Gabriels is in a real heap of trouble come June 3. Y’all want to be there because this is the fight that will solidify what I’ve been saying, that there’s no girl in this world who can get in the ring with me and take me. I’m a problem.
“I took on the biggest challenges when I turned pro and Hanna Gabriels was one of my biggest challenges. Back then, I had two belts and I was 5-0. Hanna Gabriels was 18-1 and the one girl that beat her, she came back and beat her. So, we knew Hannah Gabriels was a dog.
“The knockdown pissed me off because it was a flash knockdown. After the fight I was very upset and very frustrated and I said ‘I want to fight her some more.’ I wanted to do the rematch immediately.
“I beat her unanimously after being knocked down and this time I don’t want a unanimous decision. I want the knockout. She’s able to get knocked out, it’s happened to her before. I’m able to get knocked down. It happened to me before, but I got back up and won.
“I have traveled the world and fought girls who were way bigger than Hanna Gabriels and come out on top, so I don’t know why anyone would say I’ve been ducking her. That’s a lie. I haven’t ducked anyone.
“I’m from Flint, Michigan. I want all the smoke. Whoever got the smoke, let’s go. Let’s fight.”
“I’m so honored to be here. It’s a privilege to be here in Detroit and hopefully we bring a war again that people will enjoy.
“We were here in 2018. I remember that fight was a great fight. I think it was a close fight and I wasn’t mad about Claressa winning. I was mad about the cards, because I think I didn’t deserve those cards. Even for your fights afterwards, I don’t think the other girls gave you as much of a fight and they did better on the cards, so I am here to redeem myself.
“Two years ago, you fought for the undisputed at 154 and I was still the champion there and you avoided me for whatever reason. I am here to take what’s yours at 160.
“I am very honored. I am very proud of Claressa. She’s done so much, she’s the face of women’s boxing and she is actually the greatest. She has accomplished so much. It’s not only about the ring, but she has handled pressure. She has backed up her words.
“She said she’ll beat my ass again and I thought it was a strong word because I didn’t feel like I’d been beaten. But we have the opportunity to do it again.
“For me, this fight is about heritage. My father used to box and just recently we were speaking about that, and he was telling me some stories about my grandfather, who was a street fighter and my Great Grandfather, who participated in the construction of the rails of the train in Costa Rica when there was slavery in Costa Rica. So it is about heritage today. I am so honored to carry so much and to bring it to this fight and to bring Costa Rica with me.”
DMITRIY SALITA, President of Salita Promotions
“The legacy of big-time boxing in Detroit will continue on June 3, when Claressa Shields makes a defense of her undisputed middleweight belts against current light heavyweight world champion Hanna Gabriels of Costa Rica.
“Claressa versus Hanna Gabriels first happened in 2018. Hanna was a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter and a world champion. When we started working with Claressa, she told me ‘Dmitriy, please make the biggest and the best fights.’ Many told us that it was too big of a step, but Claressa believed in herself.
“Claressa Shields is known as ‘The GWOAT.’ As a young girl growing up in Flint, Michigan, one of the most challenging places in the United States, every day of her life she made the choice to stay away from bad influences. She made a choice to go to the gym and became an Olympic gold medalist and only accomplished more and more from there. Claressa is incredible inside the ring and incredible outside the ring.”
MARK TAFFET, President of Mark Taffet Media and Claressa’s Manager
“To be here, to be part of history at the very first fight at Little Caesars Arena… you can only be first once, and it lasts forever. Boy, do I love this. It gives me chills to do this. Claressa Shields has been telling Dmitriy and I, ‘you gotta get me Little Caesars. You gotta get me Little Caesars,’ and here we are today.
I always tell people that the best three fighters I’ve ever seen fight are Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather and Claressa Shields, and not necessarily in that order. She has God-given abilities, not once in a decade, not once in a century, once in a lifetime ability.
“I want to thank all of you who are here today showing your support for Claressa Shields and your support for Detroit boxing. It’s a legacy that’s been earned for decades and generations. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work.”
HECTOR FERNANDEZ, Gabriels’ Manager
“The first fight, you guys know exactly what happened. But the second fight, we’re going all in. This is going to be fireworks. Hanna has been staying in shape. She’s been dreaming about this rematch. It took them five years to give us the rematch, but we finally got it.
“Every single opponent that Claressa has had, she’s been looking amazing. She’s been looking dominant. Even with Savannah Marshall. I thought Savannah Marshall was going to win to be completely honest with you guys and then when I saw her in the ring, Claressa just did her thing and she looked nothing but amazing. Congratulations.
“It did take her five years to give us a rematch, so that must tell you something. Hanna dropped her in the first round and Hanna is going to drop her again.”
HOWARD HANDLER, President of 313 Presents
“As Detroit’s premier live entertainment company, 313 Presents is excited to bring the first-ever boxing event to Little Caesars Arena, in partnership with Salita Promotions.
“Little Caesars Arena hosts some of the biggest tours in the world, which helps rank us among the top ten arenas in the nation, year after year. It’s great to say that now we can add boxing to our portfolio.
“Detroit‘s boxing scene has a rich history that has produced and embraced numerous champions, from the great Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson to ‘The Hitman’ Tommy Hearns to Hilmer Kenty, who are joining us today, which is fantastic and now Claressa Shields.
“We’re more than ready for an action-packed night of boxing in Detroit on June 3. It’ll be a historic night and we’re really so excited that you can all be a part of it. Thank you very much.”