Savannah Marshall focused on Femke Hermans bout ahead of potential Claressa Shields showdown at Boxxer's Newcastle show

Savannah Marshall will not be overlooking Femke Hermans ahead of a potential super-fight with Claressa Shields as she makes her return to the ring on Saturday night.

By Joe Ramage
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 5:29 pm

Marshall steps back between the ropes for the first time since October and puts her WBO middleweight title on the line against Belgian Hermans as she looks to cement her path to a potential summer showdown with longtime rival Shields.

Marshall and Shields’ careers have been intertwined since their days in the amateurs and reached a boiling point when the pair clashed in Cardiff recently after Shields did her part to set up the fight by overcoming Ema Kozin in February.

Marshall and Shields exchanged in a war of words but now the onus is on the Hartlepool fighter to hold-up her part of the bargain against Hermans.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

WBO middleweight champion Savannah Marshall completes her open workout at Newcastle's Metro Centre. Picture by FRANK REID

Marshall headlines the bill in Newcastle on Saturday night, returning to the venue where she defended her title against Lolita Muzeya in stunning fashion.

And the undefeated 30-year-old admits she won’t be taking her eye off Hermans as she expects a tough encounter on her ring return.

“Somebody said to me ‘how can you focus on this fight when everyone is talking about Claressa’ but I’ve had this for five years, it’s nothing new for me,” said Marshall.

“It’s just all part and parcel of it.

WBO middleweight champion Savannah Marshall prepares for her title defence with Femke Hermans at Newcastle's Metro Centre. Picture by FRANK REID

“I’m quite tunnel visioned when it comes to things like that. People have been talking about me and Claressa for the past four or five years so it doesn’t bother me. I’ve got a job to do on Saturday first then we can talk about Claressa all we want.

“She’s probably my toughest opponent to date,” Marshall added on Hermans.

“She’s a former world champion and has only ever been beaten off world champions.

“She’s awkward, it’s an awkward fight, so I’m expecting a tough night.”

Saturday’s bout comes almost six months after Marshall last took to the ring, with the original date for the fight having to be pushed back owing to a hand injury sustained by Marshall in that win over Muzeya in October.

But Hartlepool’s champion admits the break has been good and that she is now ready to make her return.

“It’s been fine to be honest,” Marshall said of her injury.

“It was quite a quick turnaround from my last fight so I wasn’t too upset about it. I just needed a little bit more extra time to recover that’s all it was.

“It’s been a really hard camp but I’m fit, I’m ready and I can’t wait for Saturday.”

Should Marshall successfully defend her title against Hermans, who heads into the contest having won her last three bouts, then all eyes will then be on an announcement with Shields for later in the year.

American Shields is expected be in Newcastle on Saturday and Marshall believes a fight will finally be made should she take care of business against Hermans.

“I need to get past Femke who’s in the way on Saturday and then there’s nothing in the way of me and Claressa,” said Marshall.

“So that fight will be made very shortly.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor.