For years, Claressa Shields has been dominating the world of women’s boxing. Having already established herself as the greatest female boxer in history, Shields looks to avoid a slip-up as she defends her undisputed middleweight championship against late-replacement opponent Maricela Cornejo on Saturday night.
Cornejo is stepping in for Hanna Gabriels, who failed a drug test that she blamed on medication she had to apply to her dog. Shields had already won a dominant decision over Gabriels in 2018 and the entire interest in the rematch hinged on the fact that Gabriels had knocked Shields down in the first round of their first meeting.
Cornejo may be a better fight for Shields in 2023. She enters the fight riding a three-fight winning streak while Gabriels has only fought once since July 2019.
Shields turned pro after winning gold at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. By her fourth pro fight, Shields was unified super middleweight champion.
Shields moved between weight classes, adding titles at middleweight and junior middleweight, weights where Shields would eventually become undisputed champion while dominating opponent after opponent.
Shields’ dominance in the ring led to her trying her hand at mixed martial arts, signing with PFL and going 1-1 across two fights before returning to boxing.
In October, Shields battled Savannah Marshall. Marshall was the last woman to defeat Shields in the ring, winning a 2012 amateur bout. The fight was entertaining and possibly Shields’ toughest test as a professional. Still, Shields clearly won a unanimous decision to become undisputed at middleweight.
With a 16-5 pro record, Cornejo is coming into the fight as an obvious and massive underdog. She has been in the ring with an elite fighter before but has come up short, losing a pair of decisions to now-undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews Dezurn.
Cornejo will have to fight the best fight of her life to remain even slightly competitive against Shields but she has the opportunity to make a name for herself in a major way on Saturday.
Shields vs. Cornejo fight card, odds
- Claressa Shields (c) -4500 Maricela Cornejo +1600 undisputed middleweight title
- Ardreal Holmes Jr. -340 Wendy Toussaint +270 super welterweight
- Joseph Hicks -550 Antonio Todd +400 middleweight
- Date: June 3 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET (main card)
- Location: Little Caesars Arena — Detroit
- TV channel: DAZN
There’s no way around the obvious here. Shields is the most dominant female boxer on the planet and Cornejo is a decent fighter who was available and willing to take the fight on short notice. The real question here is whether Shields, who regularly predicts that she will stop her opponent, will actually get a stoppage. Shields has not won a fight by knockout since August 2017.
In her five losses, Cornejo has never been stopped. That combined with Shields’ general lack of power likely means the fight will go the distance even as Shields dominates every round. Pick: Claressa Shields via UD