The comeback starts here. The fighting pride of Hartlepool, Savannah Marshall, will get a chance to become a world champion once again this June. ‘The Silent Assassin’ will take on undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn in Manchester in the co-main event of Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank Jr II.
The June showdown will be Marshall’s first fight since suffering the only defeat of her professional career. The 31-year-old lost to the great Claressa Shields in an undisputed middleweight championship unification at the 02 Arena last October. The match-up headlined the first ever all-female arena card in boxing history. Shields scored a unanimous decision victory over Marshall on the night in a thrilling headline attraction.
The fact Marshall is fighting Shields and Crews-Dezurn back-to-back is an incredible feat in itself. Many fighters would taste their first defeat and look to retreat to safer confines. After the physical and emotional toll of a loss to old amateur rival Shields, most would have forgiven Savannah for taking a “gimme”. A quick KO on an undercard to reset herself before a tilt at a second world crown would have been perfectly acceptable.
Instead, the County Durham knockout artist goes right back in at the top level. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. Marshall had won four world title bouts by knockout before meeting Shields. She knows how to thrive at the very top of her industry. But the unbridled confidence of an undefeated fighter is not a limitless well. Once a boxer is beaten, their outlook changes. It has to.
Some fighters try too hard to expel the memories of their failure and end up landing on a streak of bad form. Others shift their style too completely, losing what made them such a force in the first place. The best, most enduring fighters make slight adjustments but essentially put their defeat down to a bad night at the office. Not everyone is an unassailable figure like Shields or Katie Taylor. Most fighters will see their ‘0’ go eventually. The greatest boxers know how to respond.
The Crews-Dezurn is a double-edged fight. Will it be an opportunity for Marshall to put herself in that echelon of greatest boxers? Will it be too much too soon from a boxer who really needed a tune-up? This is the joy and the tension at the heart of high-level boxing. While the headliner on 17th June is an unnecessary do-over of a one-sided mauling, the co-main event is a well-matched world championship showdown.
So who wins it? Both women have only lost once each. Interestingly, those losses both came against the same fighter. Marshall was beaten by Claressa Shields in her last fight while Crews-Dezurn lost to her in her debut. The latter fight was also Shields’ first professional outing, which is remarkable considering both women went on to become undisputed champions.
Crews-Dezurn lacks power, having only stopped two of her eight victims. Marshall meanwhile has won inside the distance in 10 of her 12 fights. Shields beat her on volume rather than power and the champion doesn’t throw at the same pace as Marshall’s previous foe. Crews-Dezurn is durable, with her only other setback coming in a No Contest with Alejandra Jimenez. She originally lost that bout by split decision before the decision was overturned due to Jimenez failing a drugs test. But even when suffering that rightfully-reversed defeat, she went the distance with her enhanced foe.
Marshall is a different matter though. The sort of power she possesses is a rare, natural gift. It is not something Crews-Dezurn has ever faced. If Marshall comes back at anything close to her pre-Shields best, you would think she’ll win a second world title here. Shields is a once-in-a-generation talent. Taylor and perhaps Amanda Serrano aside, nobody exists on that level in women’s boxing. But Marshall is right at the forefront of that next tier. Not everyone can be an all-time great, but Savannah can solidify herself as world class talent with a win in June.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change