Savannah Marshall Vs Claressa Shields Is The Blockbuster Rivalry Women’s Boxing Needs

Marshall and Shields’ rivalry is one that is seeping in genuine animosity between the fighters
14:05, 06 Apr 2022

Following an action-packed 2021, many expected that this year would be the one that saw women’s boxing kick down the door and properly burst through into the mainstream. 

A little over three months into the new year and that door has well and truly been blown off its hinges and the sport is on the precipice of something huge. A plethora of female superstars are lighting up rings across the globe and fight fans are being spoilt with the number of potentially huge fights on the horizon. 

It’s been more than twenty years since the women’s game had arguably its last bonafide mega-fight; the 2001 meeting between Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (cheekily dubbed 'Ali/Frazier IV', a nod to the famous trilogy shared by their fathers) which became the first pay-per-view female bout. The sport has grown exponentially in the following two decades, but it hasn’t really had a rivalry to set things alight since those two daughters of heavyweight royalty collided... until now.

At the weekend, WBO middleweight world champion Savannah Marshall blitzed Femke Hermans inside three rounds in Newcastle to improve her unbeaten record to 12-0 and extend her knockout rate to 82%, the highest of any female boxer in the world. The emphatic win set-up a mouth-watering unification with boxing’s self-proclaimed GWOAT (Greatest Woman Of All-Time), Claressa Shields. Absolutely seeping in animosity, Marshall and Shields’ rivalry is one that is almost a decade in the making. 

While Shields’ GWOAT moniker might irk some, the 27-year-old from Flint, Michigan is undoubtedly one of the most talented fighters to lace-up a pair of gloves in recent memory and there’s plenty to back that lofty title up.

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The WBA, WBC, IBF, and The Ring title-holder is a double Olympic gold medal winner, the only boxer in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles simultaneously in two weight classes and she’s only been beaten once as an amateur or professional. Can you guess who beat her?

The current three-weight world champion was 17 when she tasted defeat for the first and, so far, last time at the hands of Marshall in 2012. Across the paid and unpaid ranks, Shields has fought 90 times, winning 89. That defeat to the Brit serves as the only blemish on an otherwise immaculate career and ‘T-Rex’ will be chomping at the bit to get revenge. 

Shields and Marshall share a genuine dislike for one another and it has made for a few heated exchanges between the two in recent months. In the aftermath of Shields’ victory over Ema Kozin in Cardiff, the two went toe-to-toe for the first time in ten years, albeit verbally. 

‘Silent Assassin’ Marshall took aim at Shields’ low KO percentage, labelling her “pillow fists”. “I’m going to give you hell, bum”, Shields retorted. “Where your gold medals at?”

Following her win over Hermans, whom Shields went the distance with in 2018, Marshall called out her American nemesis who was among the spectators at the Newcastle Arena. 

"There's no-one else in the way between me and Claressa, so it's me and Claressa in the summer," Marshall told Sky Sports.

"One hundred per cent I know Claressa can't handle my power. I know when I land on Claressa it will be good night.

"It's Great Britain versus America, it's always a great rivalry.

Despite the devastating nature of Marshall’s victory, the onlooking Shields remained unimpressed, telling Sky Sports: "I said that she would do that with Femke. I'm not Femke Hermans, I'm not Hannah Rankin, I'm not any of those girls she fought against.

"As much punch power as she has, I'm sorry to tell you, if that's what I got to look forward to, it's going to be a wipe out."

History, hostility and a whole lot at stake, Shields vs Marshall is shaping up to be something special - and it’s not the only one, either. At the end of the month, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano do battle in a fight being billed as the “biggest fight ever in women’s boxing”. The scrap between the pound-for-pound no.1 and no.2 fighters will be the first time that two female boxers have headlined a bout inside the sport’s Mecca, Madison Square Garden.

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Elsewhere, this weekend sees super-featherweight champion Mikaela Mayer defend her WBO and IBF straps against Jennifer Han in California. Should she be successful, tantalising unifications with WBA champion Hyun Mi Choi or WBC belt holder Alycia Baumgardner could come into fruition, while a lucrative fight against the winner of Taylor vs Serrano might also be on the table further down the line. 

2022 is on course to be the biggest in women’s boxing history, so strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. It’s only going to get better. 

Betfred's Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano Fight Odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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