CLARESSA SHIELDS remains the number one female middleweight in the world after outclassing Maricela Cornejo in Detroit on Saturday night.
Inside the Little Caesars Arena the theme of the fight turned out to be the Shields right hand which controlled her opponent throughout.
The Michigan middleweight was fighting in Detroit for the first time in five years and the atmosphere was one of celebration for the number one pound-for-pound female fighter.
Beforehand the audience were asked to show their appreciation for some of the city’s finest boxing figures. Cornelius Bundrage, Broncko McKart, Milton McCrory and Jackie Kallen all stood and smiled in the ring before a loud round of applause was saved for the Motor City Cobra, the legendary Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns.
After Motown legends The Four Tops dusted off their vocal cords for the national anthem Shields wasted little time in displaying her trademark hand speed in round one. The opening two minutes demonstrated why the champion was priced at 1/50 pre-fight. The 28-year-old was clearly too quick, and Cornejo didn’t know what to do about the right hands frequently coming her way.
The 36-year-old was a replacement opponent for Hanna Gabriels who had been removed from the fight due to results of a May 2 VADA test. Cornejo was seen as something of a small step up in class, but Shields had little to worry about for the fight’s entirety.
The legs of Cornejo bent in the second when a thudding right from Shields added to her early dominance. Even after so little time had passed in the fight it was clear there would be only one winner.
Shields was quicker in punch exchanges, too, and could take risks on the inside when throwing combinations. Cornejo tried to keep her shape and time her own right hand but these were mere crumbs of positives to take. The challenger’s biggest achievement proved to be her chin and durability.
Cornejo had to contend with right hands down the middle as well as looping shots. Body punches were non-existent, however, and may have been the key to slow down the Washington born boxer even more.
Round seven looked like the opportunity for Shields to land her first stoppage win in six years. The two-time Olympic gold medallist poured piled on the pressure with bursts of shots that snapped back Cornejo’s head. An uppercut to the body was added for good measure. Shields needed another 60 seconds providing another argument for three-minute rounds in women’s boxing.
The eighth was a quieter session but Cornejo still retreated at the sign of Shields on the front foot. Any chance of a stoppage win looked to have passed and the final two rounds were a formality for the crowd favourite who could do as she pleased.
Cornejo had offered nothing to even suggest she had won a round and the three score totals: 100-89, 100-90, 100-90 in favour of Shields were recognition of that.
“I felt great,” Shields 14-0 (2) told DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the post-fight interview.
“I was landing my shots, I won every round like I knew I could, I pressed for the knockout but Maricela is tough and was very smart and sturdy when I started hitting her. She did a great job and congrats to me again.
“Maricela is super tough. She fights at a smaller weight class, she was in shape, able to take the shots and knew how to get away from me. I think I looked really good.”
Shields needs far greater tests than Cornejo 16-6 (6) and has her eye on the winner of the super-middleweight bout between Franchon Crews Dezurn and Savannah Marshall. Their bout takes place in Manchester on July 1. The two fighters have already lost to Shields in their careers.
“I’m only interested in the best,” Shields said.
“I’ll be looking at that fight. I think I’ll go over to the UK and show my face a little bit and see whoever wins.”