Hartlepool's fighting star Savannah Marshall is on the brink of cementing her legacy with Claressa Shields super-fight

Sweet dreams really are made of this for Hartlepool’s boxing star Savannah Marshall.

By Joe Ramage
Monday, 18th October 2021, 5:18 pm

The North East fighting sensation serenaded with her home faithful in Newcastle on Saturday night after another dazzling defence of her WBO middleweight title against Lolita Muzeya moved her a step nearer to the showdown every fight fan wants to see with Claressa Shields.

The two-division undisputed world champion was an interested spectator via an online video link as Marshall claimed her ninth knockout victory with another clinical, pulsating stoppage of Zambian Muzeya on the bell in round two.

It fuelled speculation the two will finally meet one another for a second time, the first as pros, after the Hartlepool ace delivered the American her only ever defeat in boxing in 2012 on the amateur circuit.

Savannah Marshall celebrates her victory over Lolita Muzeya in Newcastle (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It is a fight of enormous magnitude, arguably the biggest in the history of women’s boxing were it to be made - albeit both Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano will contest that. And it is a fight in which Marshall is ready for. She belongs on the biggest of stages.

After an explosive start from her challenger Muzeya in Newcastle, Marshall demonstrated just how finely tuned a fighter she has become under the stewardship of trainer Peter Fury.

A number of seismic uppercuts and body shots towards the end of the first round shook the Zambian before a series of rapid fire blows to the body and the head brought a scintillating end to the fight at the close of round two.

It was the first time Marshall had headlined a show since turning pro four years ago and she did not disappoint the thousands who came out to witness her North East return.

Savanah Marshall earned a ninth knockout win of her career over Lolita Muzeya (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

And it highlighted just how skilled a fighter Marshall is. She can take you apart methodically with varied strikes, or she can take you out in a flash with her star quality punch power living up to her nickname of The Silent Assassin.

Marshall may well be one of the hardest hitting athletes in the game and she has developed her craft admirably under Fury. She moves as well, and can land a flurry of combinations as well as anyone and that is something inherited from Fury who has overseen her rise in recent years.

The chemistry the pair share is evident every time Marshall speaks of Fury, the uncle of world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and the influence he has had in reinventing and relaunching Marshall’s career since her failed run in America with Floyd Mayweather has been exceptional.

The undefeated star has claimed nine knockouts from her 11 bouts since turning pro in 2017 - a striking ratio in women’s boxing - with the only two women to go the distance with her being Sydney LeBlanc in Marshall’s debut bout in Las Vegas and Yanina Orozco back in 2018.

And still. Savannah Marshall retained her WBO middleweight crown (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

But Marshall’s claims to be the best pound-for-pound queen of boxing however rest in the potential megafight with Shields. Despite being the only woman to have recorded a win over the American, Marshall’s sometimes inconsistent amateur career blots an otherwise remarkable copybook.

A former world and commonwealth champion, Marshall suffered double Olympic heartbreak in London 2012 and Rio 2016. Hotly tipped to claim gold on both occasions, the 30-year-old was beaten at the quarter-final stage in each Games while Shields added to her decorated career by standing on the top step each time in Marshall’s absence.

It adds an extra spice to what is already being regarded as a ‘super-fight’ in the world of boxing. Both Marshall and Shields are ranked in the top 10 list as pound-for-pound greats but both have an itch which needs to be scratched before they can fully cement their legacy.

For Marshall, it is about continuing her professional rise to stardom whereby she can abolish any lingering regrets over those Olympic heartaches.

For Shields it is about avenging the only loss in her career. Despite the 26-year-old being the only boxer in history to unify world championships in two weight divisions, the defeat to Marshall in 2012 will continue to haunt her for as long as the pair remain apart from one another in the ring.

But fortunately, it seems, they won’t be kept apart for much longer.

With both fighting stars now under the same promotional umbrella after Shields joined Marshall at Boxxer, a collision looks to be closer than it has ever been for the middleweight duo with a date in early spring next year being the rumoured date.

The American, who Marshall has recently described as ‘the best out there,’ holds three of the four belts with Hartlepool’s hero keeping the fourth.

It means that, unlike the failed attempts to unify the heavyweight division in the men’s sport, all of the marbles will be up for grabs should the fight be given its much anticipated green light.

The pair will cross paths with one another in December when they both fight in Birmingham on the same card ahead of the announcement women’s boxing craves.

The road to being undisputed looks a mighty lot clearer for Marshall now.

Marshall has journeyed to the other side of the world in order to find herself and now, in the aftermath of a sensational homecoming, is on the brink of a mammoth clash to cement her place in history as one of the best to put on a pair of gloves.

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