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“You saw the best of me tonight,” Shields says
DETROIT (AP) — Claressa Shields successfully defended her undisputed middleweight title with a lopsided unanimous decision over Maricela Cornejo on Saturday night in the first boxing card at Little Caesars Arena.
Shields (14-0, 2 KOs) won with a score of 100-89 on one card and 100-90 on the other two.
“You saw the best of me tonight,” she said. “The only thing I could have done better than I did tonight was get a knockout, and I think I would have knocked a lot of girls out with the punches I landed. Maricela is smart and she’s tough.”
Shields has won two Olympic gold medals and professional titles at super welterweight (154 pounds), middleweight (160 pounds) and super middleweight (168 pounds).
Cornejo (16-6) hasn’t beaten an opponent with a winning record in more than four years. She opened her statement by thanking Shields.
“You’ve created a movement in women’s boxing, and you really are the GWOAT (Greatest Woman of All Time),” she said. “After fighting you, I’m ready to go back to 154 pounds or even 147.”
Cornejo gave Shields some trouble in the early rounds with a solid jab and movement away from Shields’ right hand. However, she couldn’t generate enough power to keep the champion from coming forward.
Shields opened a cut over Cornejo’s right eye in the fifth round and hurt her with a series of combinations in the seventh. A straight right sent Cornejo into the ropes, but the round ended before Shields could finish her.
Cornejo tired in the final rounds, but was able to fend the champion off to make it to the final bell.
Shields didn’t rule out returning to MMA. She had two fights in 2021, winning one and losing the other.
“I have some decisions to make going forward,” Shields said. “I tend to focus on boxing, because that’s what I’m best at, but I don’t have any problem doing MMA. I think if I give it two years, I can be the champion there, too.”
Shields was originally scheduled to fight a rematch with Hanna Gabriels, who knocked her down in 2018 before losing a unanimous decision. However, Gabriels was taken off the card after testing positive for a banned substance.
“I want to thank Maricela and her team for taking this fight on 10 days notice,” Shields said. “She’s not a last-minute replacement that I could just walk through. She got my attention with some of those right hands.”
In the penultimate fight, Ardreal Holmes Jr (14-0, 5 KOs) won the USBA super-middleweight title with an unpopular split-decision win over Wendy Toussaint in a fight shortened to eight rounds by an accidental headbutt.
Joseph Hicks (7-0, 5 KOs) picked up the WBA Americas Silver middleweight title with a unanimous 8-round decision over Antonio Todd.
“It was a surreal moment for me — I’ve never fought in front of a crowd like this,” Hicks said. “I want to thank Claressa for giving me a chance to experience this.”
Marlon Harrington (9-1, 8 KOs) won the WBF Intercontinental super-welterweight championship with a 46-second technical knockout of local favorite Gheith Mohammed (9-1).
The attendance was announced as 11,784. The arena’s lower bowl appeared more than half full while the upper bowl was curtained off.
“I think this has to end the myth that women don’t have fans,” Shields said. “People came from all over the world to see the GWOAT.”
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