Maricela Cornejo will enter the ring at the lightest official weight of her career for a short-notice assignment against one of the best women’s boxers in history.
The 36-year-old middleweight was 155 pounds during Friday’s weigh-in, exactly five pounds lighter than her weight for each of her past three starts. Her latest trip to the scales comes ahead of her challenge of three-division and reigning undisputed middleweight champion and pound-for-pound queen Claressa Shields, who was 159.6 pounds for their DAZN main event Saturday from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Los Angeles’ Cornejo (16-5, 6KOs) was already in training for a previously scheduled June 6 when she got the call to challenge Shields for the fully unified middleweight championship. A new opponent was needed after it was learned that Hanna Gabriels tested positive for the banned substance Clostebol as discovered from a May 2 testing sample collected and contracted through Voluntary Anti-Doping Association ahead of their planned rematch.
Shields (13-0, 2KO) will attempt her fifth overall defense of at least two middleweight titles and her first as undisputed champion in the division. The bout comes eight months after Shields outpointed Savannah Marshall (12-1, 10KOs) to regain her old WBO middleweight title and defend her lineal and unified WBA, WBC and IBF championship in their terrific undisputed clash last October 15 in London, England.
Saturday’s fight will mark the first boxing match on U.S. soil in more two years for Shields. That moment came in a March 2021 win over unbeaten Marie Eve Dicaire to become undisputed junior middleweight champion in her Flint hometown, roughly an hour from Detroit and the site of Saturday’s championship headliner.
Shields—a two-time Olympic Gold medalist who is a perfect 10-0 in major title fights—is listed at a whopping -5000 to prevail via odds provided by bet365. The same sportsbook has Cornejo—who is 0-3 as a title challenger—as a +1400 underdog.
DAZN main card, 9:00 pm. ET
Ardreal Holmes Jr (13-0, KOs), Flint, Michigan, 153.4 pounds vs. Wendy Toussaint (14-1, 6KOs), Huntington, New York, 149.8 pounds—10 rounds, junior middleweight
Da'Velle Smith (5-0, 4KOs), Dearborn, Michigan, 160.6 pounds vs. Kahydlian Woods (4-0, KOs), 159.8 pounds—6 rounds, middleweight
Joseph Hicks (6-0, 5KOs), Grand Rapids, Michigan, 159.4 pounds vs. Antonio Todd (14-7, 8KOs), Atlanta, Georgia, 158.2 pounds—8 rounds, middleweight
Non-televised undercard, 6:00 p.m. ET
Marlon Harrington (8-1, KOs), Detroit, 152.8 pounds vs. Gheith Karim Mohammed (9-0, 3KOs), Dearborn, Michigan, 152.2 pounds—8 rounds, junior middleweight
Joshua James Pagan (6-0, 2KOs), Grand Rapids, Michigan, 139.4 pounds vs. Ronnell Burnett (9-0, 5KOs), Kansas City, Missouri, 137.4 pounds— 6 rounds, lightweight
Vernon Webber (8-0, 5KOs), Detroit, 197.4 pounds vs. Fernando Rodrigo Simoes de Almeida (10-8, 10KOs), Londrina, Brazil, 197.4 pounds—6 rounds, cruiserweight
Sarah Liegmann (7-0, 2KOs), Reinbek, Germany, 124.6 pounds vs. Carisse Brown (7-4, 4KOs), Lakeland, Florida, 125.8 pounds—6 rounds, featherweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox