Claressa Shields vows to put on a show for her hometown title defense against Maricela Cornejo
After dealing with a last-minute change of opponent, Ring middleweight champion Claressa Shields is ready to turn up the heat and give her hometown fans a memorable homecoming bout.
“I’m just happy and excited about this fight. I’m looking forward to putting on a show and showing that I’m the greatest once again,” said Shields during the final press conference before clashing in the ring against Maricela Cornejo this Saturday, June 3 from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and streamed live on DAZN in the U.S. and Canada. “People in Detroit are ready to celebrate. The city is already celebrating because it’s a big moment for Detroit. But I’m still focused on winning the fight. It’s big for all of us, but I’m keeping my head down.
Flint’s Shields will headline the first-ever boxing event at Little Caesars Arena, the home of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings. Shields has relished in the adoration of The Motor City, including a visit to throw out the first pitch at last night’s Detroit Tigers game, and will look to give her fans a show in defending her undisputed crown against Cornejo.
“I’m facing a younger, taller and more savvy opponent in Maricela Cornejo than I was in Hanna Gabriels,” said Shields, who was originally slated to face the Costa Rican former champion who ended up failing a random VADA drug test. “I want to thank Maricela for accepting this challenge and coming here. I know that she’s always in shape. It’s gonna be a real throwdown in Motown.”
A number of local musical acts will be on hand to add more excitement to the occasion, but don’t expect Shields to do any dancing.
“I know she said she wants to go out there and dance, but you’re gonna be dancing by yourself,” said the always brash Shields. “Because I came to fight. She can salsa all she wants, but I came to throw down and show my skills.”
With all the drama that surrounded Gabriels’ failed test and her subsequent exit from the card, Shields feels like the need for more words is not there.
“It’s fight week and there’s not much more to say. Boxing is changing. To be having this fight here in front of thousands of fans in Detroit, with the G.W.O.A.T. in the main event, we don’t get too many of these opportunities,” said the local fighter.
“When I got the call about fighting at Little Caesars Arena, it felt like there was a slim chance we’d get to fight here. They offered a lot of money to fight again in the U.K., but I wanted to bring my titles here.”
Cornejo: Being an underdog doesn’t affect me at all
The last-minute-call rap does not seem to have any effect on Cornejo’s outlook on the bout.
“When I got the call I was getting ready for another fight, so we were coming to the end of camp anyway. This isn’t a last minute thing for me, because I’m always ready. I’m always staying in the gym. I live, eat and breathe boxing,” said the California native, who fought three times for world titles.
“I’m ready for this opportunity and there’s no excuses come Saturday night. Claressa has done so much for the sport of boxing and everyone in this sport is trying to do our part. Our responsibility is just to make a difference in the sport and that’s what we’re trying to do. She needs a good dance partner to do that. When they called, I said I’m ready to dance.
“Being an underdog doesn’t affect me at all. I’m gonna go put some money on myself. I knew I’d be the underdog. She’s got the titles, so I know what I have to do. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect time for me to take this fight. Some might think that it’s short notice, but I’m in tip-top shape.”
“She’s coming after me, so I’m fighting fire with fire. There’s no backing down at all. It’s gonna take heart, endurance, everything and the kitchen sink. That’s the kind of fighter that Claressa is and I’m so ready for it.”
The press conference also included rising unbeaten and Flint-native Ardreal Holmes and his opponent Wendy Toussaint, who meet in the super welterweight co-main event.
“I’m really happy that everyone came out and that Flint and Detroit are gonna get to watch us on Saturday,” said Holmes. “I know that I have to look impressive and open the door for me to eventually fight for a world title. I’m taking it one fight at a time, but I’m coming for the top of the division.”
Toussant replied that “I’ve had a great training camp and I feel prepared for this fight. I respect Holmes, but he’s not going to be bringing anything that I haven’t seen before.”
A press release by Salita Promotions was used in this article.