Claressa Shields Beats Maricela Cornejo in Detroit

Claressa Shields Successfully Defends Middleweight Titles in Detroit


By David A. Avila

In front of a Detroit crowd familiar with boxing legends Claressa Shields demonstrated her place among the legends with a start to finish win over number one contender Maricela Cornejo to retain the middleweight world championship on Saturday.

“Maricela is just super tough. She was just in shape and knew how to get away from shots,” said Shields

More than 10,000 fans entered Little Caesar’s Arena and witnessed Shields perform.

Despite last-minute changes in opposition Shields (14-0, 2 Kos) accepted always strong Cornejo (16-6, 6 Kos) and proved that former Detroit boxing legends such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis and Tommy Hearns need to move over.

Shields wasted little time in opening up with looping overhand rights that barely missed the mark. Cornejo was careful to avoid the bombs meant to disrupt her for her senses. Though few punches landed it was clear that Shields was on the attack.

Cornejo was scheduled to fight another foe and had been preparing in Las Vegas with famed trainer Ismael Salas. She was fully prepared to face anyone, but Shields is not anyone. Her defense was on point but the speed ratio of Shields punches is almost impossible to practice.

Still, Cornejo did enough by connecting with a strong right cross that kept Shields from overwhelming her.

“Just stay smart and not get hit with her big right hand,” said Shields about her battle plan against Cornejo who replaced Hanna Gabriels who failed a PED test.

Though Cornejo had two inches height advantage, the middleweight champion Shields has faced others that were taller before such as Christina Hammer and Savannah Marshall. Shields adjusted well.

“Height don’t matter, power don’t matter,” Shields said. “It’s all about skills and wills and I always have more.”

Over the years Shields has carefully added more ammunition to her offensive arsenal and fighting a taller opponent with power has become second nature. Shields kept a perfect distance at all times and made it difficult for Cornejo who time her attacks with a big right cross.

Cornejo jabbed her way trying to close the distance, but Shields agility and reflexes kept the taller fighter from her goal. Shields snapped Cornejo’s head back numerous times during the fight, but the Mexican-American fighter from the state of Washington has always shown to have one of the best chins in women’s boxing. No one has ever knocked her down.

Shields came close, especially in the seventh round. Cornejo opened the frame with a strong right lead that seemed to awaken the gates. Shields unleashed the blinding combinations that have bewildered every foe she’s ever faced since childhood. The speed and fury of the blows forced Cornejo to hold and maneuver out of range. She survived the onslaught but if it had been a three-minute round the fight might have been over. Instead, after the two-minute round expired, Cornejo had survived.

Shields had expended a lot of energy attempting the knockout. It takes a lot of to fire off dozens of blows with blinding speed and accuracy. Most of the eighth round was fought by both at a much slower tempo, until the last 20 seconds when Shields and Cornejo opened up the guns.

After saving energy in the prior round, Shields stunned Cornejo with a strong one-two that snapped the head of the challenger. Shields kept on the attack but in measured tones. Though she won every round it was evident that Cornejo was looking for one big counter shot that could turn the momentum.

It did not happen. Shields kept control of the fight until the very end. After 10 rounds both hugged each other in respect and the judges gave their verdict 100-89, 100-90 twice for Shields who keeps the middleweight world championship.

“I felt great. I won every round like I knew I could,” said Shields. “I tried for the KO, but Maricela was tough, had a strong right hand.”

For Shields it was her sixth defense of the middleweight championship.

“I thought I looked really, really good,” said a very content Shields. “Thank you for coming out.”


Other bouts

Local fighter Ardreal Holmes (14-0) defeated Haiti’s Wendy Toussaint (14-2) by technical split decision after the fight was stopped early due to a bad cut following a clash of heads in the super welterweight match.

Toussaint was the aggressor through most of the fight but when a savage cut opened up above his forehead the referee stopped the fight though the ringside physician had given approval to continue.

The fight was stopped at 1:54 of the eighth round and Holmes won 76-75, 77-74, 74-77. The Detroit crowd booed the decision loudly.

A middleweight contest saw Michigan’s Joseph Hicks (7-0, 5 KOs) use his height and reach to dominate Atlanta’s Antonio Todd (14-8) from the outside. All three judges scored it 80-72 for Hicks.