Claressa Shields felt Franchon Crews was a clear winner over Maricela Cornejo in both of their 10-round, 168-pound title fights.

Crews, who has lost only to Shields, beat Cornejo by majority decision in their first fight in September 2018 because judge Patricia Morse Jarman scored it a draw (95-95). Judges Tim Cheatham (99-91) and Dave Moretti (99-91) scored nine rounds apiece for Crews, who won the then-vacant WBC super middleweight title by beating Cornejo at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Baltimore’s Crews, who eventually became the fully unified super middleweight champ, won their rematch by unanimous decision a year and a day later. Judges Carla Caiz (98-92), Pat Russell (98-92) and Daniel Sandoval (97-93) all scored their second fight for Crews.

Shields nevertheless expects to encounter an improved version of Cornejo when they fight Saturday night.

“When I had watched the fights, I had thought Franchon won unanimously against Cornejo,” Shields told “But Cornejo also was pretty green at the beginning, when they fought. So, to me, Cornejo has gotten a lot better over time. And that’s why I’m not taking her lightly.”

Los Angeles’ Cornejo will challenge Shields for the undisputed middleweight champion’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 160-pound championships in a main event DAZN will stream worldwide from Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. Shields (13-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, is consistently listed as at least a 45-1 favorite versus Cornejo (16-5, 6 KOs), but Cornejo is taller, longer and younger than the contender she replaced, Hanna Gabriels.

“Maricela Cornejo is 5-10 in height,” Shields said. “She’s 36 years old. She’s fought for world titles [three] times and come up short. So, she’s coming to win.”

Cornejo accepted this difficult fight on only 10 days’ notice because Costa Rica’s Gabriels (21-2-1, 12 KOs) tested positive for a banned substance. She felt confident in doing so because she is in better condition than for previous fights and was winding down training camp in Las Vegas for a different fight scheduled for June 6.

“This was the first camp I ever had a strength and conditioning coach,” Cornejo said. “[Conditioning] coach Larry Wade put me in the best possible shape, so that I could take advantage of this opportunity.

“I know what kind of fighter Claressa is, but I also know what kind of fighter I am. I have absolutely no doubt in my ability with this new team I have and the strength and confidence they installed in me.”

Cornejo is 0-3 in world title fights, but she seconded Shields’ belief that the three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist will face a different fighter than the contender Crews (8-1, 2 KOs) beat twice.

“This is Mari 2.0,” Cornejo said. “If you watch any film that’s out there on me, there’s absolutely nothing that looks anything like this Maricela. I’m excited for the world to see the new me, too.”

DAZN’s coverage of the Shields-Cornejo undercard is set to start at 9 p.m. EDT. Ardreal Holmes (13-0, 5 KOs), a southpaw from Flint, Michigan, and Wendy Toussaint (14-1, 6 KOs), of Huntington, New York, are set to meet in the co-feature, a 10-round junior middleweight match.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.