Hartlepool's fighting champion Savannah Marshall defends her WBO middleweight title in pulsating style with knockout win over Lolita Muzeya in front of the watching Claressa Shields
Hartlepool’s fighting hero Savannah Marshall defended her WBO world middleweight title in scintillating style to set up a potential showdown fight with American rival Claressa Shields.
Marshall had to withstand a blistering start from challenger Lolita Muzeya who came out aggressively and threw caution to the wind before the home favourite sealed a seventh consecutive knockout in her career with a clinical stoppage on the bell in round two.
The Silent Assassin maintained her undefeated professional career after landing a devastating number of blows to the Zambian before the bell to take her to 11-0 in front of a buoyant crowd at Newcastle Arena for Marshall’s North East return.
Hartlepool ace Marshall met her challenger head on in what seemed more like a final round punch up than an opening round with Muzeya landing a number of shots on the 30-year-old.
Marshall had to remain composed in the opening stages but, having weathered an early storm, she was able to stand her distance and deliver a punch perfect performance, picking her shots against an overzealous opponent.
Marshall allowed Muzeya to walk onto a number of powerful blows, landing several uppercuts before the close of the round.
And the second round began in a similar fashion with both fighters meeting head on and the challenger once again showing no fear against the Newcastle crowd favourite.
But the explosive nature of the fight appeared to have taken it out of the Zambian who fatigued in the closing stages of the second round allowing the impressive Marshall to land a flurry of unanswered statement combination blows.
When the openings came Marshall was able to deliver a number of clean shots to both the body and the head before the referee waved the fight off from a dazed Muzeya two seconds before the bell in round two.
It was Marshall’s second defence of the title she claimed from Hannah Rankin almost a year ago following a knockout win over Swede, Maria Lindberg in April.
Elsewhere on the card, heavyweight Hughie Fury continued his momentum after his unanimous decision loss to Alexander Povetkin in 2019 by securing victory over Christian Hammer.
Fury was in control of the fight before referee Steve Gray accepted the German Hammer’s retirement at the end of the fifth round due to bicep injury.
Middleweight Chris Eubank Jr made his return to the ring after his fight with Anatoli Muratov was cancelled earlier this month following concerns surrounding the German’s pre-fight medical.
The 32-year-old showed flashes of his ability after a slow start with Wanik Awdijan before Awdijan’s corner retired the German fighter with a suspected broken rib at the end of the fifth round to the disappointment of the Newcastle crowd.
But the night belonged to Hartlepool’s Marshall who headlined a show for the first time in her career and moved a step closer to mouthwatering face-off with the first two-division undisputed champion of the world Shields.
The pair exchanged words with one another after the bout with Marshall’s promoter Ben Shalom confirming both Marshall and Shields will compete on the same card in Birmingham on December 11.