Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall – The Brawl to Settle it All
One month later than promised, the ‘GWOAT’ and the ‘Silent Assassin’ finally get to settle the score
The biggest grudge match in the history of female boxing reaches its finale on Saturday, October 15 at the O2 Arena in London, after the fight was postponed by a month to respect the passing of Her Majesty the Queen.
Bitter rivals Claressa Shields (12-0, 2KO) and Savannah Marshall (12-0, 10KO) will headline an historic all-female fight card, guaranteed to light up the Greenwich Peninsula, with the winner exiting the ring to enter straight into the history books as the Undisputed Middleweight Champion.
So much has been reported on these two former foes over the last decade, whose intense rivalry dates back over 10 years. Hartlepool’s Marshall is the only ever opponent to overcome the American when she outpointed a 17-year-old Shields during the 2012 World Amateur Championships.
21 at the time, Marshall said Shields gave her a big hug after their fight, where she became only the second English boxer to be crowned world amateur champion, because the ecstatic American had qualified for the Olympic Games with her performance. However, they haven’t shown any kindness to each other since!
At a Glance – Amateur Careers
During their renowned amateur bout, it was Shields advancing forwards, piling on pressure, while Marshall mostly boxed on the backfoot, moving laterally, staying out of range with her fleeting footwork, using her longer reach and height to full advantage to win 14-8 on points.
However, it was Shields who went on to scoop up an Olympic gold that same year, whereas Marshall didn’t get past the quarter-final stage despite being the hot favourite at London 2012.
After defeating Shields, Savannah’s stock was at its highest, but her subsequent performance in the 2012 Games saw that diminish somewhat. She claimed gold in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealths, but the competition is obviously thinner.
Michigan’s Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields went on to become a double Olympic and World champion. The incredible talent won the Olympics and Worlds at middleweight back-to-back during 2012-2016, reaching the pinnacle of the sport.
Shields’ major gold medals and 64-1 amateur record convincingly trumps Marshall’s honours and 61-16 slate.
At a Glance – Professional Careers
In the pro ranks, Shields once again completed the set and scooped up title after title, breaking records with each passing victory.
She won a national title in her second pro bout, then became unified world champion in her fourth fight. This weekend will serve as her 12th championship fight in 13 professional outings, and she comes to the ring as a Triple Unified Champion and two-weight Undisputed Champion, defending her WBC, WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine titles, bidding to become a Triple Undisputed Champion – another record for the history books.
Marshall’s achievements are again dwarfed by Shields’s, but are still impressive in their own right.
The hard-hitting ‘Assassin’ won a title in her fourth fight, then became WBO World middleweight champion in her ninth and has defended the belt three times since.
What’s been the most impressive feat of Marshall’s career so far is her KO count. It’s not something we are used to seeing in female boxing, but the County Durham star’s raw power has seen her knock out her last eight opponents in a row!
Shields Points Win (11/8): Shields is arguably the better boxer in this matchup. Technically brilliant, supremely skilled, and easily pound for pound top one or two in the world – only Katie Taylor could usurp her for the No.1 spot at this moment.
Shields has 101 rounds under her belt compared to Marshall’s 44, and has gone the full 10-round distance eight times, whereas her lesser experienced opponent has only done 10-rounds once, which was four years ago.
Shields will have engine and experience on her side, and to box to a perfect game plan all the way to a 10-round decision is a highly likely outcome.
Marshall KO Win (5/2): Marshall clearly has the upper hand in strength, and it’s possible that Shields has never felt power like hers before.
To stop eight opponents in a row is a frightening stat, so it’ll be interesting to see Shields’s reaction to the first power punch she absorbs from the Brit. Will she able to take it in her stride or will it have a lasting effect and cause her to go a bit gun-shy? She has only been knocked down once in her career, which was a bit of a flash knockdown against Hanna Gabriels in the first round of their 2018 fight, the offending punch glancing the top of her crown, knocking her more off-balance than hurting her, but she jumped straight back up unperturbed to win 98-91 on one card.
Marshall’s KO ratio is 83.33% and on average she stops her opponents every three rounds.
Shields KO Win (17/2): This is an outcome not many are expecting with just two KOs from 12 bouts. However, with more professional rounds of boxing in the bag, the American’s conditioning and familiarity with the 10-round duration makes it very possible she could set a higher pace that Savannah could struggle with and then overwhelm her when she senses her foe is fatigued. Could she swarm Savannah to force the official to intervene? Not the most likey outcome, but definitely one to entertain.
Marshall Points Win (13/5): As the pair are both No.1 and 2 in the division, this could be a very even battle that the busier boxer could emerge victorious from. Canelo’s wins over Golovkin mostly came from him landing more power punches, even though ‘GGG’ outlanded him overall. If Marshall can match the Michigander, while landing the bigger blows throughout, then she can definitely get her neck out just in front if the judges are called into play.
Draw (11/1): As you’ve just read, these are the top two middleweights in the world and this battle has a long history of bad blood behind it, meaning neither boxer is backing down without a fight. This clash could swing back and forth all the way to a stalemate, leading to an even more lucrative rematch.
The odds couldn’t be any closer with Shields at 19/20 with Betway, while home fighter Marshall is 10/11, and the odds for a draw are as low as you will ever find them at 11/1.
Shields is a masterful boxer, a great counter-puncher, sometimes looking like the female version of Floyd Mayweather. Her biggest advantage over Marshall will be her superior handspeed, expert ringcraft and vaster experience.
She wins her fights convincingly, the results are always wide points decisions where she often claims every single round, but doesn’t possess power. She does try to aggressively overwhelm her opponents and really goes for those elusive stoppages, but doesn’t quite have the strength to see it through.
Marshall is also extremely skilled, but in more of an unconventional way. She’s tricky and awkward, Peter Fury has passed on that winning ‘Fury’ style effectively. She leaves her hands down low, varies her shots nicely, and unleashes her frightful power at the right time to devastating effect. She doesn’t always necessarily sit down on her shots, but it’s her rhythm and side to side movement that often generates the power to knock her opponents down and out.
Shields is defensively sound, very hard to nail cleanly, but she can be caught, as Hanna Gabriels proved in their 2019 fight, however she is very adept at making her opponents miss then making them pay.
Shields will most likely look to be slick, defensive and to land her quick counters, whereas Marshall will almost certainly utilise her higher power by landing those awkward shots on any part of the target in front of her, which could be arms, shoulders, body, and just anything she can.
This epic showdown at a sold-out O2 Arena, a venue reserved for only the biggest boxing nights, is guaranteed to get a huge viewership, especially as America vs England is always a big occasion in any sport.
Those betting odds literally tell the whole story of this fight – it couldn’t be any harder to call!
The two outcomes I feel are most likeliest is for Marshall to go hell for leather and rain down punches on Shields from all angles, landing on arms, shoulders, body… just wherever she can to bruise and batter her opponent to demonstrate her power and get throught with something… anything! If she can land something substantial at some point then it could place Shields in a world of trouble she’s never really experienced in a ring before.
However, those 10 two-minute rounds just fly by, so for Shields, 20 minutes is not a long time to have to get through to box clever and rack up the rounds, especially as she’s done it so many times already.
I initially approached this fight believing that Marshall would win by KO, but I’ve since switched to thinking Shields will win on points.
If you are a risk-taker, then Shields to win by stoppage could be worth a punt. If she can set a high pace, make Marshall uncomfortable, dominate, unbalance and outland her, then there could be a scenario where she swarms her into submission.
Whether it’s Marshall by KO or Shields on points, the real winner this weekend is women’s boxing. A fight card exclusively packed with female fights only, at a sold O2 Arena, a venue reserved for the biggest of boxing nights, could be the catalyst to inspire the next generation of female sports stars. Here’s hoping.