Shields & Marshall: A Rivalry That Shows Progress

Shields & Marshall: A Rivalry That Shows Progress

Nothing is ever as it seems in boxing. The reality is often clouded in smoke and mirrors, narratives pushed beyond any semblance of belief. Savannah Marshall has serious power in her fists, and many will try to convince you that Marshall will demolish Claressa Shields in the same manner that she has done her previous opponents.

Femke Hermans came to Newcastle last night with proven credentials but left it another victim of almost certainly the hardest punching female boxer on the planet. The finish was spectacular, worrying even for a few minutes, but before the 3rd round conclusion, there was much evidence that Shields isn’t without hope.

Marshall may well blow Shields away, the power that she has in those hands might be the definitive deciding factor when they meet later this year. But Shields isn’t Hermans, her resume of Olympic gold medals and multiple world titles demands much respect.

The ‘casual’ boxing fan would have formed one opinion, but the reality is completely different. The bookies rarely get it wrong, early odds indicate they can’t be split. Nobody really knows who will win, and that is what makes the fight so riveting and different. Too often we do know who will win. Sport needs that kind of edge to it, the sense of the unknown. Too many times we don’t get that. On an upcoming big card, the main event lists the favourite as 1/10 to win. And that is being promoted as a step up for the ‘home’ fighter.

Shields vs Marshall in the great promotional hype machine is being pushed as the biggest and most important fight in women’s boxing history. The upcoming Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano showdown will obviously rival any such suggestions of grandeur, but just the fact that there is a debate shows progress and plenty of it. When Shields and Marshall does eventually happen, Taylor and Serrano will be assigned to history, and Shields and Marshall will then carry even more importance. It’s big now, come the first bell, it will be bigger still.

Shields was in Newcastle to sell the fight, she more than did her job, and of course, Marshall did also. It is an important fight for the continued progress of their sport, and thankfully, there are other such fights to follow.

Taylor and Serrano is signed, sealed and nearly delivered. Shields and Marshall is close enough to safely think it won’t be lost to boxing politics. But there is surely more to follow, Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner with the right promotion could rival any of the above fights. Trust me, that is a proper old-fashioned rivalry. And one that needs a natural conclusion.

Boxxer also has Natasha Jonas and Hannah Rankin as a potential big domestic unification fight on the horizon. And it will be another arena headliner. Boxxer are making serious moves in women’s boxing, Olympic stars Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall were announced yesterday, and more female talent will undoubtedly follow.

Matchroom has a flourishing stable, there are multiple world champions on their books and the likes of Ellie Scotney, Sandy Ryan and possibly the best prospect in the sport, Skye Nicolson, will guarantee more world titles will be added. Women’s boxing has come a long way in recent times, the days of apathy and indifference are well and truly over.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/Boxxer

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