Newcastle Or Detroit? A Venue Dispute Could Rob Us Of Shields Vs Marshall II

Savannah Marshall became undisputed super middleweight champion on Saturday
12:00, 03 Jul 2023

Savannah Marshall is a world champion again after beating Franchon Crews-Dezurn via majority decision. ‘The Silent Assassin’ clinched the undisputed super middleweight championship in Manchester on Saturday night. Now a two-weight world champion, having reigned as WBO middleweight queen, Marshall can look forward to a prosperous future after a setback last year.

Claressa Shields defeated Marshall at the O2 Arena last October to unify the undisputed middleweight championship. It is a defeat that still sits on the Hartlepool boxer’s soul. Their entertaining first bout is something Marshall clearly hasn’t let go of either. The American was ringside for Marshall’s weekend win and was in typically vocal form.

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The fight was untidy at times, a fact Shields picked up on in the aftermath. Speaking to Sky Sports, she gave a very charitable view of the fight in terms of Crews-Dezurn’s contribution stating, “a lot of weaknesses and she didn’t learn from her last fight. I agreed with the first judge who had it 95-95. The fight was close.”

This appeared to be a mind game from ‘The GWOAT’, who openly jeered Marshall for most of the night. Shields’ motivation for that soon became clear when talk turned to a rematch. It’s something the Michigan native welcomes, but with conditions. 

“If Savannah comes to the USA, I will fight her at whatever weight she wants to fight at,” the pound-for-pounder said, before adding “She is going to get beat up in America, that’s what is going to happen.”

It’s a reasonable request from Shields, considering her first fight with Marshall took place on Savannah’s home turf. Especially in light of the fact Shields won their first bout. But Marshall is beating the drum for a bout at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park. Speaking in the wake of her victory, the champion said, "I'd love it to be at St James 'Park, they're really backing female sport at the minute.”

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Doubling down, Marshall added, "I'm not going to Detroit. I think female boxing at the minute is massive in the UK, there's no money in female boxing in the US.” Considering her defeat in the first bout, one in which she had home advantage, it seems like a rather unfair demand. One could certainly argue that the onus should be on Marshall to win a Stateside rematch in order to earn a trilogy bout in Newcastle. By refusing to fight anywhere else it feels like the erecting of a roadblock on the path to this anticipated rematch.

Given both women are undisputed champions, there are of course other options out there. Marshall could engage with the gifted Christina Hammer, the 28-1 former unified middleweight boss who now campaigns at super middle. Intriguingly, the German’s only loss came at the hands of Shields. Securing a knockout against an opponent that went the distance with her American rival could buy her some leverage for a UK-based rematch.

Plotting a course for Shields is harder given her dominance. But with Brits Hannah Rankin and the freshly-crowned Natasha Jonas holding belts in the division below, perhaps beating one of them on these shores could add gloss to a Marshall re-do. 

But let’s be honest, these two elite fighters need to meet next. Hopefully any quibbles over venue can be ironed out. Boxing needs its big fights and too many are falling by the wayside. The heavyweights can’t get their act together, with Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk no closer to meeting. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has dipped two weight divisions down to find his next foe, with Jermell Charlo at a severe disadvantage. Shields and Marshall can give us an elite level fight at their respective peaks. Let’s hope for once boxing politics don’t rob us off what we deserve.

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