Claressa Shields will defend belts against Hannah Rankin

The Detroit News
Claressa Shields

The title bout they’ve all been waiting for remains on hold until early next year. But for Flint boxing champion Claressa Shields, the fight will go on as planned Nov. 17 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Christina Hammer’s medical issues forced a postponement earlier this month of a Showtime showdown with Shields for the undisputed women’s world middleweight title. But after scrambling to find another opponent, Shields, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, is expected to defend her WBA and IBF middleweight belts against Scottish pro Hannah Rankin, a top contender who is one of Hammer’s regular sparring partners.

Rankin (5-2, 1 KO) lost a unanimous decision to Alicia Napoleon for the WBA super middleweight title in August in her last bout.

Showtime officials, meanwhile, agreed to reschedule the much-anticipated Shields-Hammer fight for 2019, while also agreeing “to let Shields seek an optional title defense as Hammer pursues a return to the ring,” the network said in a statement Friday.

The Shields-Rankin fight, which should be officially announced soon, will be part of an Atlantic City card show on DAZN, the new sports-streaming service that just signed a five-year, $365 million deal with men’s world middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez. Heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller will headline the event at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall against an opponent yet to be announced, according to an ESPN report.