Though most have tuned in to Shields’ previous fights to see how long her opponents can survive, Gabriels is in it to win it.
Her strategy? Being technical and aggressive.
“That’s the only way that you can fight Claressa,” said Gabriels at the final media workout during fight week in Detroit. “You can’t go in the ring passive against her. You have to put your life on the line in there and that’s what I’m planning to do.”
Read on for the three keys to victory for Hanna Gabriels as she takes on Claressa Shields live on Showtime.
3 Keys to Victory for Hanna Gabriels
Be the First Throw Punches
Gabriels should take advantage of every opportunity to be first in the round. By doing so, she won’t give Shields too much time to think about her offense. Instead she can put Shields in a passive position to mainly focus on defense and countering.
She knows how ruthless and aggressive Shields is, so firing off combinations quickly might catch her opponent by surprise and get Gabriels some rounds on the scorecards. Also, the fact that Gabriels tends to fight on the outside isn’t necessarily a negative; it could help her avoid some unnecessary punishment.
However, outside fighting often tells one’s opponent that they’re looking to hit but not be hit, so Gabriels needs to strike a fine balance between caution and aggression.
Keep Your Hands Up
In some moments Gabriels fights as if she’s sparring—not wise going against someone like Shields. Fighters should be poised but not too relaxed, which appears to be one of her weaknesses. She fights with her hands low and leaves way too much square footage open for opponents.
Gabriels needs to be more mindful of her physical defense. She needs to sharpen up her boxing stance, keeping her hands much closer to her temples and elbows closer to the body.
Shields doesn’t discriminate when it comes to punch placement, so head and body are fair game. Though Gabriels is more of a mover it doesn’t exempt her from feeling the discrepancy in arm reach between her and Shields.
Stay in the Pocket
Going against a powerhouse like Shields, it would seem counterintuitive Gabriels to stay in the pocket, but she can still move circularly while staying relatively close to center of the ring.
Her opponent has such an aggressive style of fighting that any movement backwards or away from the action will tell Shields that Gabriels is ready to fold.
Gabriels needs to get crafty with her footwork and figure out how to make the most of moving left and right in as little space as possible.
As long as she isn’t staying in place and giving Shields time to sit on her punches, she can still convey that she’s not willing to run from the fight.
All photos by Laura Ming Wong/RBRBoxing