Shields vs Cornejo
Shields vs Cornejo
Boxing superstar and two-division undisputed world champion Claressa Shields has raised the stakes substantially and will now face no. 1 ranked middleweight contender Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo in the main event of action on Saturday, June 3 from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and streamed live on DAZN in the U.S. and Canada. Hanna Gabriels was originally slated to rematch Shields. However, based on the results of a May 2, 2023 VADA test done as part of the WBC Clean Boxer Program, promoter Salita Promotions made the change.
Boxing’s G.W.O.A.T. and Michigan’s own Shields will live up to her promise to bring big-time boxing back to Detroit by stepping up to face the WBC, WBO and IBF no. 1 ranked contender Cornejo in the first-ever boxing event at Little Caesars Arena. The two highly-competitive combatants had strong statements about their June 3 showdown.
“I told my team to get me the best,’ said Undisputed Middleweight Champion Claressa Shields. “Cornejo is a tall, tough Mexican full of pride who’s in great shape and wants to beat me. She’s ranked number one. That’s exactly what I want for my Detroit homecoming and for my fans around the world. I’m looking forward to a great performance on June 3.”
“When Shields faced a Mexican in the cage, she lost. Now she will lose to a Mexican in the boxing ring,” said Cornejo. “I just finished an amazing fight camp and am in the best, strongest physical and mental shape of my life. My team in Vegas has sharpened me like a knife for this moment. On June 3, I will become Undisputed Champion!”
A two-time Olympic gold medalist throughout her storied amateur career, the 28-year-old Shields (13-0, 2 KOs) avenged her only amateur defeat last October when she traveled to the U.K. to win the WBO Middleweight Title from Savannah Marshall via unanimous decision. The Flint-native’s last fight in her home state of Michigan came in March 2021 as she bested Marie Eve Dicaire to become undisputed super welterweight world champion, her second undisputed distinction after originally unifying all the middleweight titles with a 2019 victory over then unbeaten Christina Hammer.
A native of Washington who now trains in Las Vegas under the tutelage of renowned trainer Ismael Salas, Cornejo (16-5, 6 KOs) enters this fight having won three-straight contests. She most recently fought in March as she stopped Sheila Cunha in the first round. The 36-year-old has previously challenged for world titles at middleweight and super middleweight, including a pair of close decision losses to undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews Dezurn in 2018 and 2019. Cornejo’s first world title opportunity came in just her sixth professional outing, as she dropped a razor thin split-decision to Kali Reis in April 2016.
“Claressa’s goal has always been to fight the best, and we left no stone unturned in making sure we deliver the highest available contender in the undisputed multi organization no. 1 world-rated middleweight Marcelo Cornejo,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “Fans watching the fight live on DAZN and those present for the comeback of big-time boxing in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena will witness the highest level of professional boxing between two hungry fighters fighting for the Undisputed Middleweight World Crown.”
Flint’s undefeated rising 154-pound contender Ardreal Holmes Jr. will face once-beaten New Yorker Wendy Toussaint on Saturday, June 3 in a 10-round battle for the USBA Super Welterweight title that will serve as the co-featured bout in support of the Claressa Shields vs. Maricela Cornejo main event.
The event marks the return of big-time boxing to Detroit live from Little Caesars Arena and streaming on DAZN in the U.S. and Canada. The action will also include Grand Rapids, Michigan’s undefeated Joseph Hicks taking on Atlanta-based Antonio Todd over eight rounds for the WBC Americas Silver Middleweight Championship.
The 28-year-old Holmes Jr. (13-0, 5 KOs), known in the ring as “Bossman,” is a 6’ 2” southpaw and 2016 U.S. Olympic alternate coming off a pair of impressive professional victories. In March of last year, he scored a nationally televised unanimous decision over Chicago’s once-beaten Vernon Brown (then 13-1) and followed it up with a nationally televised split-decision over then undefeated New Yorker Ismael Villarreal (then 12-0) in February of this year.
Originally from Haiti, Huntington, New York’s Toussaint (14-1, 6 KOs), known in the ring as “Haitian Fire,” stands 5′ 10½″. The 31-year-old has served as one of the main sparring partners for former WBO World Light Heavyweight Champion, Joe Smith Jr. and was last seen scoring a near-shutout unanimous decision over then 15-4-1 Asinia Byfield in June of last year.
The 29-year-old Hicks (6-0, 5 KOs) started boxing at 19 and became a standout amateur before entering the pro ranks. He was set to captain the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2020 summer games, before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the proceedings. By the time the games were back on, the IOC’s formula for picking fighters in his weight class left him on the outside looking in. Undeterred, Hicks has shined as a pro, including already scoring two wins this year with triumphs over Bilal Quintyne in February and Noah Kidd in April.
Four of Michigan’s top prospects will highlight undercard action as big-time boxing returns to Detroit on Saturday, June 3.
The lineup will see Dearborn’s Da’Velle Smith take on fellow unbeaten Kahydlian Woods in a six-round middleweight showdown, Grand Rapids’ Joshua Pagan battling the undefeated Ronnell Burnett in a six-round super lightweight attraction, Grand Rapids’ Joseph Hicks Jr. in an eight-round middleweight bout, and Dearborn’s Gheith Karim in a cross-town matchup against Detroit’s Marlon Harrington scheduled for eight rounds in the super welterweight division.
“Saturday, June 3 will be a night to remember from the opening bell, all the way until the world championship main event,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “The card will feature local talent with world class potential fighting in their most significant fights live on DAZN from Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. Detroit legends like Tommy Hearns and Hilmer Kenty will be looking on at ringside as these contenders will be fighting their most challenging opponents and hoping to prove that they are next in line to continue the elite pedigree of this legendary boxing city.”
The 22-year-old Smith (5-0, 4 KOs) made his pro debut in September 2021, winning the WBC’s inaugural Big Belt Championship by knocking out Ricky Evans in the first round. Smith would follow that triumph with a pair of knockouts in November 2021 and May 2022, before winning a unanimous decision over Devontae McDonald last August. The Kronk Gym-trained prospect most recently stopped Gyorgy Mizsei in February. He will be opposed by the 27-year-old Woods (4-0, 3 KOs). Originally from California and now fighting out of Indianapolis, Woods turned pro last year and scored three-straight knockouts before a split-decision triumph over then unbeaten Ezekiel Scruggs in February.
Pagan (5-0, 2 KOs) won the 2021 U.S. Amateur Welterweight National Championship with a unanimous decision over Keon Davis, completing a big step on his boxing journey that began as a teenager with his father and trainer Tony. The 23-year-old followed that up by turning pro in January 2022 and earning four victories that year. Most recently, Pagan won back-to-back decisions in Detroit to kick off 2023 as he bested Istvan Bela Orban in February and Wesley Rivers in April. He faces Kansas City, Missouri’s Burnett (9-0, 5 KOs), a 32-year-old who has fought professionally since 2017. Burnett earned three wins in 2022, including knockouts of Lantz Nave and dan Abram.
The 29-year-old Hicks (6-0, 5 KOs) started boxing at 19 and became a standout amateur before entering the pro rank. He was set to captain the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2020 summer games, before the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the proceedings. By the time the games were back on, the IOC’s formula for picking fighters in his weight class left him on the outside looking in. Undeterred, Hicks has shined as a pro, including already scoring two wins this year with triumphs over Bilal Quintyne in February and Noah Kidd in April.
Originally from Iraq and now residing in Dearborn, Michigan, Karim (9-0, 3 KOs) is trained by Jonathan Banks out of the world-renowned Kronk Gym in Detroit. The 25-year-old returned from a nearly three-year layoff last June and has won three-straight fights since then, most recently besting Ramses Agaton in March. He takes on Detroit’s own Harrington (8-1, 7 KOs), who trains in the same city as Karim, at Detroit’s World’s Best Boxing Gym. Harrington will be returning to the ring following his first career defeat, which came via decision against Marquis Taylor last October.