Shields vs Savannah Marshall: The Show Before The Fight
It was a little staged, more than a little cringy, echoes of the WWE, but it kind of worked and it definitely served its purpose.
Claressa Shields just minutes after her latest dominant performance on Saturday night in Cardiff, exchanged more than a few verbals with her old amateur rival and imminent future professional opponent Savannah Marshall. If there wasn’t interest in the two fighting before, there most certainly is now. They bring out the best in each other. And the worst, and that is not a bad unique selling point.
Whoever set it up knew exactly what they were doing, both fighters willingly accepted their roles in the ongoing pantomime. If people doubt this kind of showbiz works, look back at what Tony Bellew and David Haye served up. If that particular rivalry was viewed with much cynicism, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a manufactured beef to sell a fight. Shields and Marshall is about as real as it gets. There is no false narrative here.
Marshall is the only fighter ever to defeat Shields in a boxing ring. The amateur meeting prior to the 2012 London Olympics is now largely irrelevant except for marketing purposes. But make no mistake, it will be used to promote the hell out of their planned fight later this year.
The two fighters might not admit it, at least not just yet, but they need each other. And so does their sport. Shields and Marshall are in truth, starved of true equals, they need to fight each other to elevate their careers and help progress women’s boxing to the next level.
2022 could bring us three dream fights between the elite of women’s boxing. Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano is signed sealed and delivered and they head to New York in April in a momentous historic fight. Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner isn’t yet signed, but it should be. It is too good a fight to waste. But Shields vs Marshall could quite easily top the lot. A fight with real edge, a true clash of styles and a fight that belongs right at the top of the card. Shields vs Marshall should not play a supporting role to anyone.
The lazy assumption is that power will prevail. But boxing is never quite that simple. Shields might lack true concussive power, but her skills are so much more than that and I’m not convinced that any fighter, even Marshall, will simply walk through her. Shields has enough power to command respect at the very least.
There might only be twelve fights on her professional resume, but that is only part of her story. Amateur or pro, she has only lost one fight for a reason. But despite her self-proclaimed GWOAT status, Shields is still in many ways an underappreciated fighter. A win over Marshall will leave no doubt. Even for someone as good as the American, it is still a legacy fight.
But Marshall is some fighter, and a real threat to repeat what she did in the unpaid ranks. Marshall is a fighter who is never mentioned when the discussions turn to who is the best female fighter on the planet. In simple terms, she most definitely should be. Trust me, Marshall is that good.
Both haven’t really had that litmus test yet, a fight that will bring out the very best in them. The type of fight that brings danger and a real prospect of defeat. When, and you always have to be optimistic in boxing, they share a ring together, it will be that kind of fight.
Boxxer has put the money on the table where others have failed, to make the fight virtually a done deal. It should have happened before, but it seems now is the perfect time to decide many things.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/Boxxer