Savannah Marshall beats Femke Hermans with a devastating stoppage to defend her WBO middleweight title and set up Claressa Shields showdown

Savannah Marshall successfully defended her WBO middleweight title with a devastating stoppage over Femke Hermans.

By Joe Ramage
Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 1:15 am

Marshall unloaded a number of heavy shots early in the third round before delivering a blistering knockout to Belgian Hermans to clear what is sure to be the final hurdle before facing off with longtime rival Claressa Shields.

Marshall was headlining the bill in Newcastle for the second time in front of the watching Shields and put on a blockbuster show for her North East supporters.

The Hartlepool fighter felt her way into things in a reserved opening round as she looked to unlock a way through to Hermans.

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Savannah Marshall defended her WBO middleweight title over Femke Hermans in Newcastle. Picture by Martin Swinney

But the 30-year-old was on the front foot in the second, jinking and jiving her way and putting pressure on the Belgian landing a number of shots to the body and the head.

On her last visit to Newcastle back in October, Marshall was able to get the job done inside two rounds but Hermans, to her credit, did catch Marshall in the second as the fight moved into a third round.

But Marshall seized her opportunity early in the third as she backed Hermans onto the ropes with a shot to the body before landing a devastating left hook in the corner to drop Hermans and end the fight.

It was a knockout which is sure to set up a super-fight with Shields, who was taken to a decision with Hermans back in December 2018, to determine the undisputed middleweight champion in what Marshall described as a Britain versus America fight.

Savannah Marshall stops Femke Hermans in round three to defende her WBO middleweight title. Picture by Martin Swinney

Ahead of the show there were a number of bouts with North East interest including Hartlepool’s Luke Cope.

Cope enjoyed four entertaining rounds with a familiar foe in Lee Connelly, edging the fight by decision 39-37.

Durham’s Georgia O’Connor continued her fine start as a pro with a points win over Erica Alvarez while Middlesbrough cruiserweight Michael Webster stopped Germany’s Erdogan Kadrija in round three.

Elsewhere on the card, there was no love lost between Florian Marku and Chris Jenkins after the pair clashed during their weigh-in with Marku putting his international welterweight title on the line.

And it was Albanian Marku who prevailed after rocking Jenkins before unleashing a flurry of punches in the fourth as the referee waved things off for former British and Commonwealth champion Jenkins.

Marku’s success in the co-main event of the evening delighted the Newcastle crowd with several Albanian flags on show throughout.

Manchester middleweight Bradley Rea, with boxing legend Ricky Hatton in his corner, beat Lukasz Ndafoluma with a 78-73 points decision.

Rea, who was made to work for the decision having been tested at points of the fight, sent Ndafoluma to the canvas twice across the eight round bout to remain undefeated.

Zak Chelli stopped Jack Kilgannon in round six of a hard hitting super-middleweight fight.

Both Chelli and Kilgannon landed a number of heavy blows with Chelli also having to deal with a nasty cut after a clash of heads.

But Chelli brought a close to the fight with one second remaining in round six with an impressive unanswered combination sending Kilgannon to the mat for a TKO.

But the onus will now be on Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom to finalise what is sure to be one of the fights of the year this summer.

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