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Claressa Shields takes on Maricela Cornejo on June 3, Hannah Gabriels is out

Photo by Adam J. Dewey / Salita Promotions
Fighters Network

Claressa Shields has a new opponent for her June 3 clash.

Shields will now defend her undisputed middleweight championship against mandatory challenger Maricela Cornejo, it was announced Thursday. The 10-round bout will take place at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and will stream live on DAZN.

The 28-year-old Shields was originally scheduled to face Hanna Gabriels, but the switch in opponents occurred when Gabriels tested positive for a banned substance from a May 2 VADA test through the WBC Clean Boxer Program. No information was revealed what the banned substance Gabriels tested was.

“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 Maricela Cornejo,” said Dmitriy Salita, president of Salitas Promotions, which promotes Shields. 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.”

Shields (13-0, 2 knockouts), who resides in nearby Flint, became the inaugural Ring magazine middleweight champion in 2019 and further unified every major belt her last bout on October 15, defeating then-WBO champ Savannah Marshall by unanimous decision.

Having won world title belts in three different weight classes (154, 160, and 168 pounds), and having had a stellar amateur career, including winning two Olympic gold medals, Shields occupies the No. 1 position in the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound women’s ratings.

Shields expects a strong challenge and is not overlooking Cornejo.

“I told my team to get me the best,” said Shields. “Cornejo is a tall, tough Mexican, full of pride who’s in great shape and wants to beat me. She’s ranked No. 1. 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.”

Cornejo (16-5, 6 KOs), who is originally from Prosser, Washington and now resides in Los Angeles, stopped overmatched Sheila Cunha in the opening round of her last bout on March 25. She has won her last three bouts since losing Alma Ibarra in March 2011.

The 36-year-old first challenged for a world title belt against WBC super middleweight titleholder Franchon Crews Dezurn in September 2018, losing by unanimous decision. Cornejo would lose the rematch against Crews Dezurn a year later.

Cornejo is eager to prove she belongs amongst the best and embraces being an underdog to Shields.

“When Shields faced a Mexican in the cage, she lost,” said Cornejo referring to Shields’ mixed martial arts loss to Abigail Montes in October 2021. “Now she will lose to a Mexican in the boxing ring. I just finished an amazing camp and in the best, strongest physical and mental state of my life. My team in Vegas has sharpened me like a knife for this moment. On June 3, I will become undisputed champion.”

Cornejo is trained by Ismael Salas.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]