Savannah Marshall v Femke Hermans: Briton wins by KO to set up potential Claressa Shields fight

The talented Briton will now be in line for a world title bout with the unbeaten American, who was forced to retire against her

Savannah Marshall has won all 12 of her professional fights, with ten of them being knockouts.

Savannah Marshall, the WBO middleweight champion, stunned Femke Hermans to set up a unification fight with long-time rival Claressa Shields later this year.

Marshall, 30, landed a vicious left hook in the third round that sent the Belgian challenger to the mat in a neutral area, prompting referee Howard Foster to stop the bout.

While there was no official declaration that Shields-Marshall will be the next match, discussions are said to be nearing completion.

Following Marshall’s victory at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle, American Shields, 27, entered the ring, and the two champions fought head-to-head until security interfered.

Shields and Marshall have had a rivalry since they were amateurs. The Hartlepool boxer claims she wants a rematch this summer in the United Kingdom, this time as professionals and for all of the middleweight titles.

Marshall said after the victory on Radio 5 Live: “Claressa the boxer, we’ve sparred a few times in the ring… what she’s accomplished in the sport is incredible. I don’t like Claressa the person, and she doesn’t like me.”

“I’ve already decided to come back and face her in the UK,” Shields said in an interview with 5 live. Fighting her in her hometown deprives me of a significant edge.

“We’ll need some impartial supporters so that the judges aren’t swayed by the crowd. Have it at Wembley Stadium or the O2. That seems reasonable to me.”

Marshall’s KO statement

Marshall’s obligatory challenger, Hermans, a former super-middleweight world champion who had never been stopped, was on paper one of his hardest opponents to date, a severe test that the Briton was anticipated to conquer.

Marshall seemed comfortable in the first round, with her hands down by her side, after receiving some last-second advice from coach Peter Fury.

Shields, unimpressed, stood at ringside and laughed. Marshall came out in the second round with greater purpose, but she was rushing her job and her blows were falling out of range.

While many on the ringside expected Marshall to have a difficult night, the ‘Silent Assassin’ produced a devastating one-punch knockout that demonstrated why many believe her to be the best knockout artist in women’s boxing.

“I grabbed her a few seconds ago and watched her stagger back and thought to myself, ‘I’ve got you here,’” Marshall said.

When Shields fought Hermans in 2018, she dominated on points. Marshall’s submission of the 32-year-old is a clear message and warning to her opponent.

The American, on the other hand, does not agree, saying: “I’m going to equal her in terms of strength, technique, and defense. She’ll have the impression that she’s a novice.”

Shields-Marshall has been in the works for a decade.

Claressa ShieldsClaressa Shields has won all 12 of her professional fights since becoming pro in 2016, including two knockout victories.

Shields and Marshall are finally going to resolve their disputes, and a decade-long feud, inside a boxing ring, after years of verbal sparring.

Some would consider the victor to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in women’s boxing, but there is so much more at stake.

Shields is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who has won world titles in light-middleweight, middleweight, and super-middleweight, and is the first man or female boxer in the four-belt period to be undisputed champion in two classes.

The confident Michigan boxer, who is the reigning WBA, WBC, IBF, and Ring Magazine middleweight champion, calls herself the ‘Greatest Woman of All Time.’

The Newcastle fans screamed “Who are ya?” when Shields approached the ring for media obligations earlier in the night, despite her accomplishments. “I’m the GWOAT,” she said, posing with her world crowns and Olympic medals.

Shields, on the other hand, has a mark on her record that she is determined to remove.

She has only lost once in 77 amateur fights and 12 professional bouts, against Marshall at the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2012.

Marshall has been “living off that triumph” for the last ten years, according to Shields. She is enraged by her rival’s apparent lack of respect. To put it another way, she doesn’t think Marshall is on her level.

Despite losing out on an Olympic gold, Marshall had a successful amateur career. She went pro in August 2017, nine months after Shields, and a rematch between the two superstars has been in the works since then.

A true super-battle

Claressa Shields and Savannah MarshallAfter losing to the Briton in the amateurs, Shields (left) has had a long-running grudge with Marshall (right). Security had to separate the two boxers earlier this year in Cardiff.

When Marshall reclaimed the world championship vacated by Shields in October 2020, social media feuds erupted even more.

Shields fought in the United Kingdom for the first time as a professional in February, defeating Ema Kozin in a resounding points victory. Marshall seemed to be underwhelmed with the performance at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, yawning to the cameras during the live broadcast.

Marshall joined Shields at ringside after the victory for an interview, and the two were separated by security, as they were in Newcastle.

The rivalry seems real, if with a hint of theatrics, but Shields-Marshall has all the elements for a superfight. They have two distinct personalities as well as two distinct styles. It has the ability to attract casual sports enthusiasts if given the attention it deserves.

Women’s boxing is at an all-time high, with Katie Taylor, the undisputed lightweight champion of Ireland, taking on Amanda Serrano, the seven-weight world champion, on April 30 – the first female bout to headline New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden.

Shields-inclusion Marshall’s to the boxing calendar would further solidify what is already shaping up to be a historic, renowned, and game-changing year for women’s boxing.

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