Savannah Marshall talks Femke Hermans knockout, North East boxing fans, how she will celebrate and potential Claressa Shields fight

Savannah Marshall is a woman on the rise.

Sunday, 3rd April 2022, 1:32 pm

The Hartlepool-born puncher defeated Femke Hermans to defend her WBO middleweight world title in Newcastle live on Sky Sports last Saturday night.

And long-time American rival Claressa Shields – who holds the WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring middleweight titles – was ringside to take in the action.

Afterwards, promoter Ben Shalom expressed his desire to make the fight between the pair next.

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Indeed, during her work as a pundit for Sky Sports, Shields – a former opponent over 10 rounds with Hermans – also seemed pretty keen on the idea.

The potential of Marshall-Shields has been brewing for some time, and while the winner would crown an undisputed champion in the middleweight division, there also remains significant history between the middleweights.

Marshall is the only woman to have handed Shields – herself a three-weight world champion – a loss, doing so when the pair were amateurs.

Both, however, are undefeated as professionals but still often exchange insults on social media and verbals when they come nose to nose in the flesh.

Savannah Marshall knocks out Femke Hermans

And things once again got heated after Marshall’s devastating third-round knockout of the Belgian challenger in front of Shields and a raucous North East crowd at the Utilita Arena.

Shields was visibly wound up by Marshall, who for her part casually leaned on the ropes and laughed at the double Olympic gold medalist, further fanning the flames of anger.

But what was said between the rivals?

“To be honest, I can’t remember what she was saying. She was screaming like a kid, I couldn’t understand what she was saying,” Marshall explained.

She added: “Claressa went ten rounds with Femke. She didn’t hurt Femke so I think that just says it all really.

"As far as I know there’s nothing in between me and Claressa for the summer."

It is a megafight in the women’s middleweight division that simply HAS to happen next. Hardcore boxing nuts certainly desire it and the bout has the potential to cross over into casual fight fans’ consciousness.

Several locations for the clash have been mooted. Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park and St James’s Park – the home of Newcastle United – have both been mentioned alongside venues in Newcastle and Manchester.

“I want the fight in the North East no matter what," Marshall insists. “I think she’s saying she wants it in Manchester now. I don’t know why. She’s got no connection to Manchester. I’m not fighting anywhere else.

“I’m going to turn into a diva and I’m not leaving the North East now.”

Many boxers, sports stars and celebrities lose sight of themselves when success comes their way. It is a tale older than time. Marshall, however, remains humble and grateful for the blaring backing she receives every time she laces up a pair of gloves.

“It was unbelievable,” said Marshall regarding the moments leading into the fight with Hermans. “I remember being backstage and hearing them all shouting my name and I just thought wow, this is for me!”

“This isn’t cheap! It is an expensive night out and for people to spend their money and take time out of their lives to come and watch me is unbelievable.

“I met a couple in the hotel this morning and they had come all the way from Glasgow to watch me.”

After a glitzy ring walk to the tune of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by The Eurythmics, Marshall wasted little time in dealing with her opponent.

It took her just short of six minutes to defeat Hermans after the Belgian was flattened at the end of the third round by a monumental hook, leading to significant concern for the challengers’ immediate health.

Marshall, though, remained cautious in her celebrations, showing class and restraint.

Thankfully, Hermans recovered but will no doubt have a very sore head this morning.

“I just remember looking and she never jumped up and I thought oh god, I’ve got her there,” Marshall said of the knockout. “Then the stretcher got brought in and I thought oh god this is serious but thank god she is okay.”

“Femke is a tough woman. She has never been stopped. She has been in with some tough girls as well so tonight couldn’t have went better for me.

“I remember the first ten or twenty seconds I thought you are going to try and catch me here. You’re going to try and pick me off, pick my pocket.

“She was a really awkward opponent. She was slipping, she was making me miss.

“A couple of times, she had slipped my backhand or rode my hook. But that shot, that’s one of them shots you don’t even think about.

“I’m on cloud nine, absolutely unbelievable."

Marshall was chaperoned to the ring by Hughie Fury, the son of Marshall’s trainer Peter Fury and cousin of WBC heavyweight king Tyson Fury.

It is a trainer-fighter relationship that has provided dividends for both, with many commentators suggesting it to be one of the best currently in the United Kingdom.

But how will they celebrate?

"I’m quite boring,” Marshall grins. “I think I’ll just go for a fry up in the morning and that’ll do me. I’ll have to see what is open tomorrow. I’ve never booked anywhere.

"I was meant to fight March 12 and that got pushed back to this so that means I’ve been training since January. I’m going to have a couple of weeks off and then see what the craic is with Claressa.”

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