Christina Hammer first German to defend world title in U.S since Max Schmeling
While Germany is still coping with their earliest exit in the World Cup since 1938, the WBC and WBO woman’s middleweight titles-holder Christina Hammer, who emigrated to Germany from Kazakhstan when she was just a year old, is still basking in the glory of defending her titles against Tori Nelson on the June 22 co-feature to Claressa Shields-Hanna Gabriels in Detroit, Michigan.
Just days before South Korea’s 2-0 upset of Germany in Russia, Hammer (23-0, 10 knockouts) put on a masterful performance at the Masonic Temple, defeating Nelson by unanimous decision in her American debut. The Showtime-televised victory also made Hammer the first German camp to make a defense in the U.S. since a then-25-year-old heavyweight champ Max Schmeling knocked out Young Stribling in the 15th round on July 3, 1931, in Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.
“I didn’t realize it until now so thank you very much,” Hammer said when informed that it’s been 87 years since a German had defended a world title on U.S. soil. “Max Schmeling is Germany’s greatest sports hero. I am so happy to have accomplished this in my first fight in United States and I am proud that a female fighter has done it. I am very happy.”
Hammer credits her promoter Dmitriy Salita for bringing her to the United Sates and also introducing her to American audiences by pairing her bout with Shields’ main event on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” series. The event was a precursor for a possible showdown later this year between Hammer and Shields to unify all four female middleweight world titles.
“This will be the biggest women’s boxing event ever,” Salita said. “We will see two gifted athletes who each have large fan bases behind them. Both Shields and Hammer fight with a lot of pride.”
Following her win, Hammer and her team sat ringside to watch Shields rise from an early knockdown to dominate Gabriels. During Shields’ interview with Showtime’s Steve Farhood in the ring after the bout both Shields and Hammer came close to throwing punches and needed to be separated by their respective teams.
“She called me into the ring, so I went inside,” Hammer said. “I want her to know I am here in the USA to fight her. I never step back from anyone. I wanted her to know I am ready to beat her in her own country. Now all the boxing fans want to see Hammer vs. Shields.”
The 27-year-old Hammer, who has now made 12 defenses of her WBO title, usually towers over her opponents standing at 5-foot-11. The height advantage contributed to the relative ease in which Hammer was able to use her jab to dominate Nelson. Hammer will need to rely on more than her height to defeat Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
“There are things I must change in my preparation,” Hammer said. “I needed to get the experience of the first fight in the U.S. I need to see how the jet lag would be, what the food is like, and even how the ring floor feels. Now I am ready to go.”
Hammer continues to point ot the many differences of fighting in the United States compared to fighting in Europe where she has built a large following of supporters and many multi national sponsors.
“Everything I have done in my career and life has brought me to this point to fight Claressa,” Hammer said. “Claressa is aggressive and a great fighter but she is beatable. She got back up after a knockdown like a champion, but she never fought anyone like me.”