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Maricela Cornejo

Maricela Cornejo aims to spoil Shields’ homecoming

Maricela Cornejo knows she'll be the underdog near Shields' hometown

Maricela Cornejo knows Claressa Shields will be the favorite in more ways than one Saturday night at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena. Nonetheless, she eagerly accepted the opportunity to fight the undisputed middleweight world champion and so-called G.W.O.A.T.

Shields, who was born in nearby Flint, Mich., might as well be fighting in her backyard. Cornejo and Shields will feature in the co-main event of the first boxing card at the home of the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings.

As if fighting near Shields’ hometown weren’t enough of a hurdle, the entire card features boxers with Michigan ties. The co-promotion by Salita Promotions and 313 Presents will be streamed live on DAZN.

“Being an underdog doesn’t affect me at all,” she said. “I’m gonna go put some money on myself. I knew I’d be the underdog. She’s got the titles, so I know what I have to do.”

Maricela Cornejo steps in late

Shields was originally scheduled to fight a rematch with Hanna Gabriels, but Gabriels was dropped late last month after questions were raised during a WBC Clean Boxer Program test.

The top rated middleweight contender dismisses any worries about the late assignment.

“When I got the call I was getting ready for another fight,” Cornejo said. “So we were coming to the end of camp anyway. This isn’t a last minute thing for me, because I’m always ready. I’m always staying in the gym. I live, eat and breathe boxing.”

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Cornejo, 36, is 16-5. She’s searching for his first title since losing her WBC middleweight title against Kali Reis in 2016 via split decision in New Zealand.

Shields, 28, is a perfect 13-0 with two knockouts. She was scheduled to fight 40-year-old Gabriels in a rematch of the unanimous decision she earned against the Costa Rican in 2018.

‘Throwdown in Motown’

“I’m facing a younger, taller and more savvy opponent in Maricela Cornejo than I was in Hanna Gabriels,” Shields said. “I want to thank Maricela for accepting this challenge and coming here. I know that she’s always in shape. It’s gonna be a real throwdown in Motown.”

Maricela Cornejo
Undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields, left, faces off with Maricela Cornejo.

The 5-foot-10 Cornejo is two inches taller than Shields and four inches taller than Gabriels. There’s no doubt the undefeated and undisputed champion is the favorite. 

Yet, the Mexican American Cornejo is confident that she’s in the best shape to pull off an upset.

Cornejo, who lives in Los Angeles and was born in Prosser, Wash., isn’t likely to have many fans in attendance. 

“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect time for me to take this fight,” she said. “Some might think that it’s short notice, but I’m in tip-top shape.”

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