Savannah Marshall: “In my pro career, I’ve always felt like I’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
By Ian Aldous
As the UK stumbled through the anomaly that was 2020, lurching from one version of lockdown to another, Savannah Marshall (9-0) thankfully ended up managing to put a year of setbacks and demoralisation behind her.
Her maiden crack at professional world honours was postponed on three separate occasions. Fate interfered whenever light appeared, since debuting on the mammoth Mayweather vs. McGregor bill in 2017.
“In my pro career, I’ve always felt like I’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the twenty-nine year-old from Hartlepool surmised. “I signed that amazing deal with Mayweather Promotions and that never went anywhere. I’ve always felt so close but just never got my chance.
“I even said to Peter (Fury), after we passed our Covid tests on the Usyk bill (her world title shot at the fourth scheduled attempt), I’m not going to believe this is actually happening until that first bell goes.”
On October 31st, live on Sky Sports Box Office, she claimed the vacant WBO middleweight world title with a convincing and conclusive stoppage win over the tough and durable former IBO world titleholder, Hannah Rankin.
Marshall had announced herself on the world stage in impressive fashion against a big step up in competition, having walked through her previous eight opponents with relative ease.
“I’ve sparred Hannah a few times and I knew that I could stop her,” the former amateur world champion explained. “I knew I was the better fighter and I was stronger than Hannah, with no disrespect to Hannah at all. I think she helped sell a really good fight, but for me it was about proving (myself) because I’ve never been given the chance to show people what I can do because of the level of opponents, but I knew that I could stop Hannah Rankin.
“She is durable and great at what she does. Hannah’s shown that you don’t have to have a massive amateur background, she didn’t even have any amateur fights and she became a world champion in her own right. She’s very inspiring.”
As 2021 dawns, boxing in the UK has been paused with no tournaments being sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control in January and in all likeliness, February too. It leaves the two-time Olympian mightily relieved and grateful to promoter Matchroom that she even managed to compete at all last year.
“I’m just thankful I got a fight in, as there are fighters out there that haven’t boxed for well over a year. The way the start of this year’s looking – it’ll be a lot longer.
“I was meant to be fighting back end of March (or) early April. To be honest, I can see that getting pushed back now.”
Marshall already has her eyes on two future contests, despite international travel becoming a major restriction on who she can and can’t fight, as the pandemic develops.
“Well, personally there’s a couple out there. Franchon Crews-Dezurn, the (WBC & WBO) super-middleweight world champion. There’s also the Swede that’s got two belts (IBF & WBA), Elin (Cederroos).”
The two-time Olympian has soundly defeated the only other British middleweight and will likely move up in weight for fresh challenges, especially considering the fact that her arch rival Claressa Shields holds three world middleweight crowns hostage, as she ventures into the world of MMA. Only the IBO 160-pound title is available to add to her WBO belt.
“With me being able to go up and down the weights, it’s given me a lot more opponents and a lot more opportunities,” Marshall said. “Claressa has got three belts and she’s doing her own thing at the minute, and have I got to sit about and wait for you to decide if you’re coming back to boxing?
“If you look at the MMA champions and the opportunities they get, the likes of Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey – they’re worldwide known athletes. Whereas I feel like boxing is getting there with females, but MMA is light years ahead. So, I think she’s chasing stardom, that’s what she’s doing.”
Some have even said that Marshall, trained by Peter Fury, has scared Shields out of the sport. After all, she’s the only fighter, amateur or pro, to defeat the two-time Olympic champion and three-weight pro titleholder. Their names have been inextricably linked ever since.
“Claressa’s like Marmite. You love or you hate her. She plays the baddie. So, for the fact that someone’s got a win over her, people say, ‘she’s not the greatest of all-time – she’s been beat.’ It’s business isn’t it?
“It’s a selling point,” she said in reference to the link between them. “That’s the biggest fight out there for me and I expect it, really.”
“Claressa doesn’t bother me. I think it’ll be a great fight between me and her, but she’s not really relevant in me life (laughs).”
Guided by MTK Global and Hennessy Sports, whilst promoted by Eddie Hearn, Marshall’s career is in the best possible hands. Once the Coronavirus pandemic is behind us, Shields, Crews-Dezurn and Cederroos should take heed, as Savannah Marshall will look to make up for lost time. The ‘Silent Assassin’ has multiple targets in her sights.