BOXING | Gabriels desperate for a fight against Shields

But the Costa Rican’s bout against the two-time Olympic champion may not happen in Kochi

Published - March 09, 2024 07:21 pm IST - KOCHI

Multiple World boxing champion Hanna Gabriels in Kochi.

Multiple World boxing champion Hanna Gabriels in Kochi. | Photo Credit: Stan Rayan

She may appear calm, composed and smiling sweetly, but multiple World boxing champion Hanna Gabriels is seething inside. The Costa Rican had to miss her big bout against two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields, for the vacant IBF and WBA middleweight titles, last June after failing a dope test a month earlier.

That fight would have seen Gabriels returning to the ring after nearly two and half years, and the missed opportunity has hurt her deeply. Shields is now the undisputed World middleweight champion, and Gabriels is hungry for a fight against the American.

The World heavyweight DJMC Series No. 7 championships will be held in Kochi in August this year and the search is on for an opponent for the US-based boxer, but Gabriels is clear that she wants to fight Shields.

“I cannot think of anybody else. I cannot wait to face Claressa because now I know that they are afraid,” said Gabriels in reply to questions from The Hindu here on Friday night.

“They were unfair, they have played with the future of my daughter, they have played with my legacy. I have been a champion for almost 13 years, I have never tested positive for anything. These have been 10 difficult months.”

The 41-year-old claims that the medication she applied to her pet, which had a major abdominal surgery, somehow went into her bloodstream and resulted in the positive test.

“One of my puppies had puppies and a component of the medicine which I applied on her led to the positive test but we have the resolution that states that I’m innocent,” said Gabriels.

“I did not undergo a suspension at all (the test was taken by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, VADA). In US, athletes get an opportunity to present their evidence, we did that and they never sanctioned me. I was never in trouble, but it looked really bad to the public because it was pretty much a strategy to take me out of the way.

“These four years that people haven’t seen me fight has been the fuel. I have focused on the details and I can tell you with all sincerity, even though I’m 41, I’ve never been better.”

But Gabriels, whose last bout was three and half years ago, is not likely to get the 28-year-old Shields in Kochi. It may not be a title fight too.

“She hasn’t fought for some time, so we will have to first have one or two fights before she moves up to a title fight. We will have to look at good opponents for her,” said Dunstan Paul Rozairo, the chairman of DJMC which will be organising the Kochi championship. “She is willing to take on even the World champion Shields, but they don’t want to fight her, they are scared.”

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