Michael RothsteinESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
Clarissa Shields returned to her home state of Michigan and left the same way she entered – as the undisputed and undefeated middleweight champion of the world.
Shields defeated rival Marisela Cornejo via unanimous decision at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Saturday night, dominating from start to finish. The judges scored the bout 100-89, 100-90 and 100-90.
“I felt great, and my shots fell,” Shields said in the ring after the fight. “I won every round. I had to do the best I could… I went for the knockout and I don’t know how many times in the fight. Maricela was so tough.”
Shields landed massive punches in every round, including one that caught Cornejo Square in the face and appeared to stun the challenger who took the fight in less than two weeks.
Shields (14-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, was supposed to fight Hanna Gabriels, the only female fighter to knock down Shields in her professional career, but Gabriels tested positive for a banned substance and Cornejo stepped in to take her place. I showed.
Cornejo (16-6, 6 KO) absorbed many of the power punches Shields unleashed throughout the fight but rarely landed a single.
“It was like I could hit most of my shots, but some of them curved and landed really well as well,” said Shields. “But the straight rights were the money, and when I hit and hurt her, she would take off.
“I let it out to the right a few times, so we’ll work on that when I get back to the gym.”
Saturday’s bout was the culmination of a big evening for Shields, who wanted to bring championship-level boxing back to Detroit, once one of the biggest sporting cities in the United States. Undisputed junior lightweight champion Alicia Baumgardner, who will defend her titles in Detroit next month, was among the fighters in attendance.
Rapper Kash Doll walked to the ring, performing along the way – and briefly at the exit, Shields and Doll confronted each other to sing together. It was a Detroit-themed night as The Four Tops played the National Anthem, each wearing a different jersey of Detroit’s four major sports teams.
Shields left her options open for her next opponent but said she will travel to Great Britain next month for the undisputed super bantamweight title fight between champion Francon Cruz-Dzorn and challenger Savannah Marshall.
Shields has already defeated both opponents – Crews-Dezurn in 2016 in both fighters’ debut and Marshall in her last fight in October – but Marshall has had her toughest fight yet. Shadasia Green, the WBC mandatory challenger for the super middleweight title, is expected to fight the winner of Crews-Dezurn versus Marshall, but Shields could be another option, especially because of her stature in the sport.
“I’m only interested in the best,” said Shields. “I’ll look at the fight. I think I’ll go to the UK, show my face a little bit.
She added, “Who wins, if they want to meet me here at Little Caesars again, and when all my fans come out and watch me fight, I’m all for it.”
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