It’s one of the biggest fights to be made in women’s boxing and according to WBO middleweight champion Savannah Marshall, if all goes to plan, we could see it by the end of the year.
Claressa Shields, the only boxer in the four-belt era, male or female, to become an undisputed champion in two weight classes, is cementing her legacy as one of the greatest female pugilists of all-time. The two-time gold medallist has only been beaten once in 76 amateur and professional bouts, but that sole defeat came at the hands of Marshall at the 2012 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships and now on a collision course to do battle once again this year.
Speaking to Dominic McGuinness and Anthony Crolla on Betfred’s Boxing Show, the 29-year-old said, “I think it’ll happen back end of this year. Obviously she’s got stuff going on now with the mixed martial arts and I want to get out again. So I think it’ll be probably November/December time.
This week Shields, the WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine middleweight world champion, found an opponent and venue for her long-awaited MMA debut in June, ruling out the fight with Marshall until at least after summer, but the ‘Silent Assassin’ says she has plenty of options in the meantime.
“I’d like to go up a weight. I’d like to go back up to super-middleweight, there’s two tough champions [Elin Cederroos and Franchon Crews Dezurn], they’ve got two belts each - I’d like to have a crack at one of them. Then I’d be two-weight world champion which means my stock goes up again, because you only get one chance and I want to be in the best possible position I can be for when that chance comes.”
When asked about her old amateur rival’s switch from the ring to the cage, the Hartlepool based fighter says she understands why Shields took the opportunity. “To be honest, I don’t blame her for going down that route because you look at the response the women are getting in the UFC - even Cage Warriors and other platforms - it’s ten-fold to what female boxing is, isn’t it? So I don’t blame her for going down that road.”
Speaking about a potential dust-up with her old amateur foe last week, Shields was confident that the outcome would be different to their clash in Qinhuangdao nine years ago, telling Sky Sports, “They are building Savannah up to make people think it. This fight is only considered because of how great I am.
"If I didn't have all these Olympic gold medals and accolades, nobody would care about a fight between me and Savannah.
"I bounced back from that loss [to Marshall in the amateurs] to win two Olympics then turn pro and be outstanding, that's why this fight would be huge.
"Is it going to be a back-and-forth brawl? No. I would be as dominant as I am against every other fighter. Probably more dominant because she speaks so much and I want to beat her up.”