Joe Ramage: Emphatic Savannah Marshall punching her way to women’s boxing history as Hartlepool United edge towards well-deserved break

It wasn’t quite the Hartlepool double we hoped for but in Savannah Marshall the town did enjoy some explosive success.

By Joe Ramage
Friday, 8th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Where Hartlepool United struggled to land a glove on Salford City at the Suit Direct Stadium, Marshall landed a devastating knockout blow to Femke Hermans to defend her WBO middleweight title and remain undefeated in her professional career.

The one word which manifests when it comes to Marshall is ‘wow.’

It’s not until you’re up close and personal do you truly establish just how much power she can pack in those punches as Belgian Hermans crumbled in a heap in the corner of the ring having been on the receiving end of a crushing left-hook from Marshall.

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Savannah Marshall delivered a devastating knockout blow to Femke Hermans to defend her WBO middleweight title. Picture by Martin Swinney

Three rounds was all it took to get the 32-year-old out of there and set up a blockbuster summer showdown with longtime arch rival, Claressa Shields.

Shields was in attendance at Newcastle arena and made little effort to hide her success as she paraded her WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight belts, and two Olympic gold medals, around the ring to a chorus of boos.

Despite being over 30 miles away, this remained Marshall’s territory as the Newcastle crowd, including many of those who had been at the Suit Direct Stadium hours earlier, showed their support for the 30-year-old.

The whys and wherefores of Marshall’s latest title defence can be dissected over multiple column inches but what is clear is just how much the Hartlepool fighter’s star is rising.

The belts Savannah Marshall will be looking to claim from Claressa Shields with the pair set to meet in the summer. Picture by Martin Swinney

Marshall’s knockout, and her imminent clash with American Shields is the talk of the sport coming off the back of last weekend.

It’s a testament to Marshall, and her trainer Peter Fury, just how much they have helped raise the profile of women’s boxing over the last couple of years. Shields, too, has played an unprecedented role in that and should be applauded.

This week there have been comparisons between the Marshall-Shields contest and the upcoming Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano bout in Madison Square Garden and the significance they have within the history of boxing.

But how nice is it that we’re talking about women’s boxing in such limelight?

Savannah Marshall celebrates after claiming a third round stoppage win over Femke Hermans in Newcastle. Picture by Martin Swinney

These athletes put their bodies through the mill, no differently to their male counterparts, and we’re finally beginning to see the recognition superstars such as Marshall deserve.

What’s next? Three minute rounds? Championship 12 rounders? More headline spots? The glass ceiling is in serious danger of shattering once more.

But there was one opportunity missed in the immediate aftermath of Marshall’s stunning success.

With Shields and Marshall locked eye-to-eye in the ring post-fight, the opportunity was there for boxing promotion Boxxer to announce the fight had been made.

To strike the iron while it was scalding and keep the focus immediately invested in this imminent undisputed clash.

The fight will still be made however, as the final location details are ironed out. And wherever the fight is staged, Marshall is sure to continue to receive the vociferous backing of her Hartlepool natives.

As for Pools? Graeme Lee’s side are in the winding down process of the season.

Their gloves are coming off as they stumble back towards their corner in search of a well-deserved summer break given their remarkable achievements over the last two seasons.

They’ll be back, much like Marshall, in a quest for further success.