Hartlepool champion Savannah Marshall opens up on 'lazy' and 'overboard' Clarissa Shields, studying at Teesside University and three-minute rounds
The town of Hartlepool boasts one of the best boxers on the planet.
Savannah Marshall has held the WBO middleweight title since October 2020.
As an amateur, she made history in becoming the first British female world champion after securing gold at the 2012 World Championships.
A two-time Olympian, so great was Marshall’s talent that she was spotted by arguably boxing’s most skilled and elusive champion, Floyd Mayweather.
For context, Mayweather has won 15 major world titles in five different weight classes and knows a generational fighting talent when he stumbles across one.
The partnership didn’t last long with the pair splitting on good terms as Marshall geared up for an assault on women’s professional boxing.
And she did that with Peter Fury – uncle of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury – by her side as trainer. The Fury’s know also know the ins and outs of boxing down to a fine art.
With all the winning and success; the fighting on television; the big names and links to boxing greatness; you would be forgiven for assuming that Marshall’s ego may have inflated over the years.
Nothing could be further from the truth as the down-to-earth 30-year-old embarks on a new journey: a degree in Sports Science at Teesside University.
"I did a foundation degree about four years ago now in Hartlepool,” Marshall told The Mail. “My old college tutor told me about it and told me it was through Teesside University.
“But, to be honest, I wasn’t really interested because I was on Team GB at the point aiming towards the 2016 Olympic Games.
“Anyway, he talked me around and I did two years and I absolutely loved it.
“And then I signed with Mayweather Promotions after the foundation degree had finished so I had no interest in going back to Teesside to do the top-up as I was going to America.
“For some reason in September time, I was talking to my old tutor who suggested I should do the top-up year and get my full degree and Teesside accepted me.
“At the minute, I’m just doing the last bits of my dissertation and then that’s it, I’ve got a full degree.”
With an eye on the future, however, it is difficult to look past Marshall’s mooted potential mega fight with Clarissa Shields.
The brash American is a three-weight world champion and considered by some to be the greatest women’s boxer of all time.
Indeed, the only loss during Shields’ combined amateur and professional career came against… you guessed it: Savannah Marshall.
That result came in the second round of the 2012 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao.
The two have traded snipes on social media ever since with fans desperate to witness what would be the biggest female bout in the history of boxing.
Shields holds The Ring, WBC, WBA and IBF world titles, meaning a fight against WBO strap holder Marshall would crown an undisputed middleweight champion.
But how close is the potential mega fight?
“They are looking at the back end of the year,” Marshall explained. “So October or November time. “I’m going to box during July so I’m just getting back into camp now.
“I need to get this one out the way as I know she’s fighting in the Octagon. Once we’ve got these fights out of the way then that’s when I think the talks will start properly.
“It is the biggest fight out there! And to be in the position I am in, this is my lottery ticket, I’m never going to get a better fight.
“So to be half a year away it’s crazy.”
Indeed, the pair are chalk and cheese outside of the ring. Shields is feisty, outspoken and isn’t shy of challenging boxing’s prejudices in regards to equality.
Marshall, however, likes to do her talking inside of the ring.
"We’ve known each other a long time so I’m used to her and the way she goes in but it’s just the way she expresses herself,” Marshall explains. “I feel like she goes overboard but that’s something she has to deal with herself.”
One talking point in boxing circles remains the lack of three-minute rounds for women fighters, who are forced to fight for two minutes instead.
That lack of time limits the scope for female fighters to produce those all-important knockout moments, which can go viral in a heartbeat to boost profiles, interest and pay packets.
But could a historic fight between Marshall and Shields mark a change in procedure?
"I would be all over that but I don’t know why she thinks it’s a good idea,” Marshall laughed. “She’ll shoot herself in the foot.
"She’s lazy for two minutes so I don’t know why she’s blowing the trumpet for that.
“She’s just going with the wind, isn’t she? Everyone’s talking about it at the minute so she’s just jumping on the bandwagon.
"I know for a fine fact that if it got switched to three-minute rounds, she wouldn’t last two-and-a-half minutes.”
On the eve of the biggest fight in her career, however, Marshall’s thoughts still drifted back to the town of her birth.
"I have a lot of connections to Hartlepool and a lot of people who will support me.
“It was recently nine-years to the day since I became world champion as an amateur and I was the favourite for the Olympics just after but that didn’t go to plan.
“And the whole of Hartlepool saw how I struggled but for me to get a world title as a professional is amazing and Hartlepool has been there from the start.”